Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 122–128 | Cite as

Physical activity and performance in older persons with musculoskeletal impairment: results of a pilot study with 9-month follow-up

  • Francesca Cecchi
  • Guido Pasquini
  • Massimiliano Chiti
  • Raffaello Molino Lova
  • Enrico Enock
  • Giacomo Nofri
  • Anita Paperini
  • Andrea A. Conti
  • Alessandro Mannoni
  • Claudio Macchi
Original Articles


Background and aims: Physical activity in older adults improves fitness, but few studies have examined the short- and long-term effects on physical performance. This analysis is preliminary to a RCT investigating physical activity effects on performance over time in older persons with musculoskeletal impairment. Methods: Fifty sedentary participants, aged 65+, with musculoskeletal impairment and difficulties in complex mobility, but independent in basic activities of daily living (ADLs) were randomly assigned to 3- monthly, twice-a-week, supervised physical exercise (E) or unsupervised regular walking (W), and advised to keep active. Assessments: baseline (T0), discharge (T1), 6 (T2) and 9 (T3) months from baseline. Outcome: Summary of Performance Score (SPS), strength, flexibility; general mental health (GMH), vitality, and self-reported disability. Results: All participants completed follow-ups. At T3, only 12 E and 2 W participants reported exercising regularly. Each outcome, except for GMH, trunk flexibility and basic ADLs, changed over time significantly more in E than in W. After training, E increased SPS (1 point), along with muscle strength, flexibility, vitality, and reduced difficulties in complex mobility. At 9 months, all parameters, except passive hip flexion and shoulder abduction, had reverted to baseline levels. In the same time-frame, W progressively decreased SPS, knee flexion/extension strength and passive flexion, and increased difficulties in basic and complex mobility. Conclusions: In this physically impaired sample, a 3-month exercise program, compared with unsupervised regular walking, was associated with improved performance, fitness and vitality after discharge, and to delayed physical decline in the next 6-month follow-up.


Older persons performance physical activity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Internal Publishing Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Cecchi
    • 1
  • Guido Pasquini
    • 1
  • Massimiliano Chiti
    • 1
  • Raffaello Molino Lova
    • 1
  • Enrico Enock
    • 1
  • Giacomo Nofri
    • 1
  • Anita Paperini
    • 1
  • Andrea A. Conti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alessandro Mannoni
    • 3
  • Claudio Macchi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, IRCCS, Outpatient Rehabilitation DepartmentIstituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere ScientificoFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Critical Care Medicine and SurgeryUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  3. 3.Rheumatology Unit and Quality Improvement NetworkASFFlorenceItaly

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