Background: Moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is considered important to prevent disability among community-dwelling older people. To develop MVPA programs aimed at reducing or preventing disability more insight is needed in the contributions of exercise duration and intensity and the interplay between the two. Methods: Longitudinal data of 276 Dutch community-dwelling persons aged 65 years and older participating in the Elderly And their Neighbourhood (ELANE) study were used. MVPA exercise (yes/no), duration (hours per two weeks), intensity (Metabolic Equivalent of Task; METs), and energy expenditure (MET-hours per two weeks), and disability in instrumental activities of daily living (range 0-8) were measured twice within 9 months to account for fluctuations over time. Associations between the four exercise measures and disability were tested with longitudinal tobit regression analyses. Results: MVPA exercise was associated with fewer disabilities. While exercise duration was not associated with disability, whereas an increase of one MET in exercise intensity was associated with 0.14 fewer disabilities (95 % CI: -0.26 to -0.02). For exercise energy expenditure, an increase of one MET-hour exercise per two weeks was associated with 0.03 fewer disabilities (95 % CI: -0.05 to -0.01). Conclusions: Higher-intensity exercise may help to prevent disability among community-dwelling older people. Further investigation is needed to explore the preventive effects in more detail.

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BMC Geriatrics
Department of Public Health

Schop-Etman, A., Pierik, F., Kamphuis, C., Burdorf, A., & van Lenthe, F. (2016). The role of high-intensity physical exercise in the prevention of disability among community-dwelling older people. BMC Geriatrics, 16(1), 1–6. doi:10.1186/s12877-016-0334-y