Clinical Medicine Insights: Geriatrics

Differences in Exercise Performance and Leisure-Time Physical Activity in Older Men and Women

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Clinical Medicine Insights: Geriatrics 2008:1 9-15

Published on 08 May 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 men and women, (b) to assess the relationship between exercise performance and LTPA, and (c) to determine whether group differences in exercise performance persist after controlling for LTPA.

Methods:  A total of 105 women and 155 men 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) 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:  Women had a 7% lower SPPB value (P<0.001), a 12% shorter 6-minute walk distance (P<0.001), and a 28% lower LTPA value (P<0.011) than the older men. LTPA was significantly related (P<0.01) to both SPPB and 6-minute walk distance in the older men and women. Group differences in SPPB and 6-minute walk distance between older men and women were no longer present (P>0.05) after controlling for LTPA.

Conclusions:  Older women have impaired exercise performance and lower LTPA compared to older men. Furthermore, sex differences in exercise performance no longer exist after controlling for LTPA.




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