Clinical Medicine Insights: Geriatrics

Differences in Exercise Performance and Leisure-Time Physical Activity in Older Caucasians and African-Americans

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Clinical Medicine Insights: Geriatrics 2008:1 1-7

Published on 19 Nov 2008

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Andrew W. Gardner1,2 and Polly S. Montgomery1,2

1CMRI Metabolic Research Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. 2Department of Medicine, Division of Gerontology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD.


Purposes:  (a) To compare exercise performance and leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) between older Caucasians and African-Americans, (b) to assess the relationship between exercise performance and LTPA, and (c) to determine whether group differences in exercise performance persist after adjusting for differences in LTPA.

Methods:  A total of 207 Caucasians and 160 African-Americans who were 65 years of age and older participated in this study. Subjects were characterized on exercise performance by a 6-minute walk test, and by a short physical performance battery (SPPB) score consisting of a repeated chair rise test, a standing balance test, and a 4-meter walk test. Additionally, LTPA was assessed using the Minnesota LTPA questionnaire.

Results:  African-Americans had a 5% lower SPPB value ( p    0.009), a 14% shorter 6-minute walk distance ( p    0.001), and a 34% lower LTPA value ( p    0.020). LTPA was significantly related ( p    0.01) to both SPPB and 6-minute walk distance in both groups. Differences in SPPB and 6-minute walk distance between older Caucasians and African-Americans were no longer present ( p    0.05) after controlling for LTPA.

Conclusions:  Older African-Americans had impaired exercise performance and lower LTPA compared to older Caucasians. Racial differences in exercise performance were no longer present after adjusting for differences in LTPA.




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