Elderly exercise effective

Patients are encouraged to exercise, but there are few studies of its effectiveness in older people. 

The University of Western Ontario has therefore measured how an exercise program changes fitness.

There were 40 GPs in the study. They recruited patients who were 55–85 years old. These people were generally healthy, but had an inactive lifestyle.

The GPs gave all 360 patients an exercise prescription, based on the results of a step test. In addition, one group of patients received counselling and extra support.

After 12 months, maximum oxygen consumption had increased significantly in both groups. This increase was independent of the patients’ age, body mass index or whether they lived in urban or rural areas.

There was an increase in daily energy expenditure. This rise was significantly greater in the patients who had received counselling.

Diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in both