Objective: Maintaining or increasing physical activity in late-middle age has been shown to be associated with a reduction in mortality. The aim of the present study was to explore the relationship between regular walking and the risk of all-cause death in a large population of frail and very old people living in community.
Methods: We analyzed data from the Aging and Longevity Study in the Sirente Geographic Area (ilSIRENTE study), a prospective cohort study that collected data on all subjects aged 80 year and older living in a mountain community. Baseline assessments of participants started in December 2003 and were completed in September 2004. All subjects were followed-up for 24 months. To the purpose of this study we selected all subjects without impairment in the activities of daily living (n=248). The main outcome measure was the relative hazard ratio of death over two years of follow-up for different levels of walking activity.
Results: During a mean follow-up time of 24 months from baseline assessment, 30 subjects (12%) died. There was an uneven distribution of the risk. After adjusting for age, gender and other possible risk factors of death (functional and cognitive disability, congestive heart failure, hypertension, osteoarthritis, depression, number of medications, body mass index, cholesterol and reactive C protein) subjects walking 1 h or more per day were less likely to die compared to participants walking less than 1 h per day (RR, 0.36; 95% CI 0.12-0.98).
Conclusions: Our results obtained from a representative sample of very old and frail elderly subjects expand the knowledge that high levels of walking activity are associated with better survival.