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      Physical activity and functional limitations in older adults: a systematic review related to Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines

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          Abstract

          Background

          The purpose was to conduct systematic reviews of the relationship between physical activity of healthy community-dwelling older (>65 years) adults and outcomes of functional limitations, disability, or loss of independence.

          Methods

          Prospective cohort studies with an outcome related to functional independence or to cognitive function were searched, as well as exercise training interventions that reported a functional outcome. Electronic database search strategies were used to identify citations which were screened (title and abstract) for inclusion. Included articles were reviewed to complete standardized data extraction tables, and assess study quality. An established system of assessing the level and grade of evidence for recommendations was employed.

          Results

          Sixty-six studies met inclusion criteria for the relationship between physical activity and functional independence, and 34 were included with a cognitive function outcome. Greater physical activity of an aerobic nature (categorized by a variety of methods) was associated with higher functional status (expressed by a host of outcome measures) in older age. For functional independence, moderate (and high) levels of physical activity appeared effective in conferring a reduced risk (odds ratio ~0.5) of functional limitations or disability. Limitation in higher level performance outcomes was reduced (odds ratio ~0.5) with vigorous (or high) activity with an apparent dose-response of moderate through to high activity. Exercise training interventions (including aerobic and resistance) of older adults showed improvement in physiological and functional measures, and suggestion of longer-term reduction in incidence of mobility disability. A relatively high level of physical activity was related to better cognitive function and reduced risk of developing dementia; however, there were mixed results of the effects of exercise interventions on cognitive function indices.

          Conclusions

          There is a consistency of findings across studies and a range of outcome measures related to functional independence; regular aerobic activity and short-term exercise programmes confer a reduced risk of functional limitations and disability in older age. Although a precise characterization of a minimal or effective physical activity dose to maintain functional independence is difficult, it appears moderate to higher levels of activity are effective and there may be a threshold of at least moderate activity for significant outcomes.

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          Most cited references116

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          Risk factors for Alzheimer's disease: a prospective analysis from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging.

          J. Lindsay (2002)
          A prospective analysis of risk factors for Alzheimer's disease was a major objective of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging, a nationwide, population-based study. Of 6,434 eligible subjects aged 65 years or older in 1991, 4,615 were alive in 1996 and participated in the follow-up study. All participants were cognitively normal in 1991 when they completed a risk factor questionnaire. Their cognitive status was reassessed 5 years later by using a similar two-phase procedure, including a screening interview, followed by a clinical examination when indicated. The analysis included 194 Alzheimer's disease cases and 3,894 cognitively normal controls. Increasing age, fewer years of education, and the apolipoprotein E epsilon4 allele were significantly associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, wine consumption, coffee consumption, and regular physical activity were associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. No statistically significant association was found for family history of dementia, sex, history of depression, estrogen replacement therapy, head trauma, antiperspirant or antacid use, smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke. The protective associations warrant further study. In particular, regular physical activity could be an important component of a preventive strategy against Alzheimer's disease and many other conditions.
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            A systematic review of the evidence for Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults

            This systematic review examines critically the scientific basis for Canada's Physical Activity Guide for Healthy Active Living for adults. Particular reference is given to the dose-response relationship between physical activity and premature all-cause mortality and seven chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) and osteoporosis). The strength of the relationship between physical activity and specific health outcomes is evaluated critically. Literature was obtained through searching electronic databases (e.g., MEDLINE, EMBASE), cross-referencing, and through the authors' knowledge of the area. For inclusion in our systematic review articles must have at least 3 levels of physical activity and the concomitant risk for each chronic disease. The quality of included studies was appraised using a modified Downs and Black tool. Through this search we identified a total of 254 articles that met the eligibility criteria related to premature all-cause mortality (N = 70), cardiovascular disease (N = 49), stroke (N = 25), hypertension (N = 12), colon cancer (N = 33), breast cancer (N = 43), type 2 diabetes (N = 20), and osteoporosis (N = 2). Overall, the current literature supports clearly the dose-response relationship between physical activity and the seven chronic conditions identified. Moreover, higher levels of physical activity reduce the risk for premature all-cause mortality. The current Canadian guidelines appear to be appropriate to reduce the risk for the seven chronic conditions identified above and all-cause mortality.
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              Risk factors for functional status decline in community-living elderly people: a systematic literature review.

              To lay the groundwork for devising, improving and implementing strategies to prevent or delay the onset of disability in the elderly, we conducted a systematic literature review of longitudinal studies published between 1985 and 1997 that reported statistical associations between individual base-line risk factors and subsequent functional status in community-living older persons. Functional status decline was defined as disability or physical function limitation. We used MEDLINE, PSYCINFO, SOCA, EMBASE, bibliographies and expert consultation to select the articles, 78 of which met the selection criteria. Risk factors were categorized into 14 domains and coded by two independent abstractors. Based on the methodological quality of the statistical analyses between risk factors and functional outcomes (e.g. control for base-line functional status, control for confounding, attrition rate), the strength of evidence was derived for each risk factor. The association of functional decline with medical findings was also analyzed. The highest strength of evidence for an increased risk in functional status decline was found for (alphabetical order) cognitive impairment, depression, disease burden (comorbidity), increased and decreased body mass index, lower extremity functional limitation, low frequency of social contacts, low level of physical activity, no alcohol use compared to moderate use, poor self-perceived health, smoking and vision impairment. The review revealed that some risk factors (e.g. nutrition, physical environment) have been neglected in past research. This review will help investigators set priorities for future research of the Disablement Process, plan health and social services for elderly persons and develop more cost-effective programs for preventing disability among them.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
                BioMed Central
                1479-5868
                2010
                11 May 2010
                : 7
                : 38
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Kinesiology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ]Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
                [3 ]Cardiovascular Physiology Rehabilitation Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
                [4 ]Experimental Medicine Programme, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
                Article
                1479-5868-7-38
                10.1186/1479-5868-7-38
                2882898
                20459782
                db117a34-df88-40c0-ab32-18612ebebe0a
                Copyright ©2010 Paterson and Warburton; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 16 July 2009
                : 11 May 2010
                Categories
                Review

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                Nutrition & Dietetics

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