(HealthDay News) – Structured physical activity does not improve respiratory outcomes in elderly adults with mobility limitations, but is linked with higher risk of respiratory hospitalization, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Carlos A. Vaz Fragoso, MD, from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues randomized 1635 community-dwelling, elderly persons (mean age, 79 years) with mobility limitations (Short Physical Performance Battery scores < 10) to either physical activity (walking, strength, flexibility, and balance training) or health education (topical workshops and upper extremity stretching exercises).

The researchers found that physical activity had no effect on dyspnea severity, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), or maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP). However, physical activity was associated with higher likelihood of respiratory hospitalization, which was significant for exacerbation of obstructive airways disease (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.34; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.19 to 4.61; P=0.01) and marginal for pneumonia (HR: 1.54; 95% CI: 0.98 to 2.42; P=0.06).

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“Physical activity was associated with higher likelihood of respiratory hospitalization than health education, but differences in dyspnea severity, FEV1, and MIP did not accompany this effect – indicating that higher hospital use could be attributable to greater participant contact,” the authors write.


  1. Vaz Fragoso CA, Beavers DP, Anton SD, et al. Effect of Structured Physical Activity on Respiratory Outcomes in Sedentary Elderly Adults with Mobility Limitations. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016; doi: 10.1111/jgs.14013.