From a postal questionnaire of older men, healthy lifestyle factors reduced the onset of and may have increased recovery from mobility limitation

J Clin Epidemiol. 2005 Aug;58(8):831-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2005.01.007.


Background and objective: We have examined predictors of the onset of and recovery from mobility limitation and the association between lifestyle changes in later life and mobility status.

Study design and setting: From a cohort of 7,735 men recruited at ages 40-59 years (1978-1980), 5,075 men completed follow-up postal questionnaires in 1992 (Q92), then aged 52-73 years, and again in 1996 (Q96). Mobility limitation was defined as reported difficulty in any one or more of the following: getting outdoors, walking 400 yards, or climbing stairs.

Results: Lifestyle factors (smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and heavy drinking) and manual worker social class were significantly and independently associated with onset of mobility limitation and with the exception of physical activity remained significant after further adjustment for chronic diseases. Smoking cessation and taking up physical activity in later life are associated with reduced onset of mobility limitation. Among men with mobility limitation at Q92 (n=645), light or moderate levels of physical activity were associated with significantly increased odds of recovery at Q96 (light activity, OR=2.43, 95% CI 1.48, 4.00; moderate activity, OR=2.57, 95% CI 1.31, 5.02).

Conclusion: Maintaining and adopting a healthy lifestyle in later life reduces the onset of mobility limitation in old age. Maintaining physical activity may improve recovery.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Postal Service
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking / physiology