A randomized controlled trial of exercise to improve outcomes of acute hospitalization in older adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000 Dec;48(12):1545-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2000.tb03862.x.


Objective: Older adults hospitalized for nondisabling diagnoses can lose functional ability. Lack of exercise or physical activity during the acute illness and recovery may be contributory. This study evaluated whether increased exercise in hospital and afterward would shorten length of stay and improve physical function at 1 month.

Design: A randomized controlled trial.

Setting: A 700-bed community-based hospital with academic and teaching programs.

Participants: Three hundred patients (mean age 78.2 years +/- 5.6) with nondisabling medical and surgical diagnoses who were admitted to an acute care hospital between December 1990 and April 1992. All patients had an expected length of stay 5 or more days, were ambulatory before admission, and were not expected to die within 12 months.

Intervention: A hospital-based general exercise program was administered to intervention patients along with encouragement to continue the program, self-administered, at home.

Measurements: The primary outcome was hospital length of stay. Secondary outcomes at 1 month post-discharge included measures of physical function and other general health indicators.

Results: There was no significant difference in length of stay between treatment and control groups controlling for baseline characteristics and diagnoses. The intervention was associated with better function in instrumental activities of daily living (beta = .433 (95% CI, 0.044-0.842)) at 1 month but no change in perceived general health status and other measures of physical function.

Conclusions: An exercise program started during hospitalization and continued for 1 month did not shorten length of stay but did improve functional outcome at 1 month.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Acute Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Exercise Therapy / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Status*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self Care
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome