The study followed 171 post-menopausal women who, from 1982 to 1985, were enrolled in a study to determine the effects of a regular walking routine on health. In 1985, 1995 and 1999 their physical activity levels were assessed through self-reporting and performance-based measures. Researchers found that women who were physically active on a regular basis during this 14-year time span had a noticeably higher level of functional status than women who were inconsistently active or were inactive. This association was maintained even after adjusting for health status.
"Functional status relates directly to what people can do for themselves, so having a high functional status means the person is more likely to be able to live independently," said Jennifer S. Brach, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy, University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. "Regular physical activity, which can be as simple as walking, not only helps people to live longer and healthier, it helps them to live with fewer limitations and a better quality of life. With people living longer, this emphasizes that everyone, young and old alike, should be physically active."
Activity levels were measured at all three intervals through a physical activity questionnaire that measured physical activity through sports/leisure activities and number of blocks walked. In 1985, physical activity was objectively measured using a Large Scale Integrated Monitor; in 1999, it was measured using a pedometer.
In 1999, functional status was measured through self-report and performance-based measures.
Contact: Jocelyn Uhl
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center