Physical activity and performance in older persons with musculoskeletal impairment: Results of a pilot study with 9-month follow-up

Francesca Cecchi, Guido Pasquini, Massimiliano Chiti, Raffaello Molino Lova, Enrico Enock, Giacomo Nofri, Anita Paperini, Andrea A. Conti, Alessandro Mannoni, Claudio Macchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Physical activity in older adults improves fitness, but few studies have examined the short- and long-term effects on physical performance. This analysis is preliminary to a RCT investigating physical activity effects on performance over time in older persons with musculoskeletal impairment. Methods: Fifty sedentary participants, aged 65+, with musculoskeletal impairment and difficulties in complex mobility, but independent in basic activities of daily living (ADLs) were randomly assigned to 3-monthly, twice-a-week, supervised physical exercise (E) or unsupervised regular walking (W), and advised to keep active. Assessments: baseline (T0), discharge (T1), 6 (T2) and 9 (T3) months from baseline. Outcome: Summary of Performance Score (SPS), strength, flexibility; general mental health (GMH), vitality, and self-reported disability. Results: All participants completed follow-ups. At T3, only 12 E and 2 W participants reported exercising regularly. Each outcome, except for GMH, trunk flexibility and basic ADLs, changed over time significantly more in E than in W. After training, E increased SPS (1 point), along with muscle strength, flexibility, vitality, and reduced difficulties in complex mobility. At 9 months, all pa-rameters, except passive hip flexion and shoulder abduction, had reverted to baseline levels. In the same time-frame, W progressively decreased SPS, knee flexion/extension strength and passive flexion, and increased difficulties in basic and complex mobility. Conclusions: In this physically impaired sample, a 3-month exercise program, compared with unsupervised regular walking, was associated with improved performance, fitness and vitality after discharge, and to delayed physical decline in the next 6-month follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalAging clinical and experimental research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


  • Older persons
  • Performance
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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