Quality of Life (QoL) tends to decrease with age. Exercise has been shown to be effective in improving some psychosocial features related to QoL. We carried out a randomized controlled trial to verify the long-term efficacy of an intensive fitness program versus a lighter program on the QoL of an elderly sample, compared to QoL of a large normative sample.
Participants aged ≥65 years were randomly assigned in a 1:1 fashion either to a vigorous physical activity program group (VAG) or to a postural gymnastic group (PGG). Depressive symptoms were screened by PHQ-9. QoL assessment was done by SF-12. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to test differences between the two groups over time. Comparison with the normative sample was carried out by means of ANOVA 1-way.
Both VAG and PGG showed low PHQ9 scores at the beginning and at the end of the trial, indicating the absence of depressive symptoms. At the end of the study, both groups had a higher level of QoL, measured by means of SF-12, than the normative standardized sample. While SF-12 scores for both groups decreased slightly 12 weeks after the end of the trial, only the VAG group maintained significantly-higher scores than those of the normative sample.