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Seniors with low age expectations likelier to lead sedentary lives, new UCLA study finds

July 05, 2017

Fewer than 40 percent of US adults aged 65 and above have a regular exercise routine, which can extend their years of independent life.


A new UCLA study found that seniors with the lowest expectations for aging --that is, for what one can do at an advanced age -- were the most likely to lead sedentary lifestyles. Seniors with the lowest age expectations were more than twice as likely to report engaging in less than 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity during the previous week than those with higher age expectations. The study was based on the survey responses of 636 seniors recruited from 14 Los Angeles-area community-based senior centers.


The study reveals that the low age expectation mindset may be keeping seniors from exercising. "We know that the No. 1 way we can improve the health of older adults is to increase physical activity -- it's more powerful than common expensive medications," said lead researcher Dr. Catherine Sarkisian, assistant professor of medicine, geriatrics division, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We might be able to help more seniors exercise if we can change what seniors believe about aging."


Other researchers are Dr. Mitchell Wong, assistant professor of medicine, and Dr. Carol Mangione, professor of medicine, both of the Division of General Internal Medicine, and Susan Hirsch, senior public administration analyst in the Division of Geriatrics, all from the David Geffen School of Medicine; and Thomas R. Prohaska of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

The research appears in the October issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.


The National Institute of Aging (UCLA Mentored Clinical Scientist Program in Geriatrics, Paul Beeson Career Development Award in Aging, UCLA Center for Health Improvement in Minority Elders/Resources Centers for Minority Aging Research) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Chicago Healthy Aging Research Network Center).

Enrique Rivero
University of California - Los Angeles