Purpose: To describe the population in terms of risk for disability and compare the effects of a walking intervention and nutrition education intervention on risk modification and functional performance in lower socioeconomic older adults using a randomized controlled study.
Methods: Twenty-six community-dwelling older adults aged 60 and older were randomly assigned to a 16-week walking exercise group or a nutrition education control group. Peak aerobic capacity and physical function were measured at baseline and post intervention. Physical function was measured using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey Physical Function subscale, Short Physical Performance Battery, Physical Performance Test, and Continuous Scale Physical Functional Performance 10 item test (CS-PFP10).
Results: Eighty-five percent of the participants were at risk for preclinical disability of which 50% were at risk for moderate disability. The walking exercise group significantly improved in peak aerobic capacity (18.9%), physical function (25%) using the CS-PFP10 compared to the control group.
Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of physical activity and indicate that walking, a simple exercise that can be done without specialized exercise leader or equipment can significantly increase peak aerobic capacity and physical function in just 4 months.