Older Adults Recently Discharged from the Hospital: Effect of Aerobic Interval Exercise on Health-Related Quality of Life, Physical Fitness, and Physical Activity

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To compare the effect of high-intensity aerobic interval exercise (HIA) with home-based exercise (HB) in older adults with chronic disease soon after discharge from the hospital.

DESIGN:

Randomized controlled trial.

SETTING:

Hospital.

PARTICIPANTS:

Community-dwelling older adults aged 70 to 92 (N = 115) were recruited while in the hospital. After discharge, they were randomized to HIA group (n = 59) or HB (n = 56).

INTERVENTION:

High-intensity aerobic interval exercise (HIA) consisted of endurance, strength, and balance exercises. The HB consisted of low-intensity exercises and telephone follow-up from a physical therapist.

MEASUREMENTS:

Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Survey, physical fitness was measured using the Senior Fitness Test, and physical activity was assessed using the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly.

RESULTS:

Intention-to-treat analysis showed that both groups improved their HRQOL and physical activity after 3 months. Improvements on the Senior Fitness Test (chair stand, arm curl and 6-minute walk (6MWT)) were significantly greater in the HIA group than the HB group. The mean difference was 25.9 m on the 6MWT (P = .001, effect size d = 0.2), 1.3 per 30 seconds on the chair stands mean (P = .001, effect size d = 0.3), and 1.6 per 30 seconds on the arm curl (P = .001, effect size d = 0.4).

CONCLUSION:

High-intensity aerobic interval exercise (HIA) participants significantly improved their physical fitness. Both groups increased their HRQOL and physical activity. The findings suggest that exercise therapy should be incorporated as a part of the treatment for older people at risk for functional decline. J Am Geriatr Soc 61:1580–1585, 2013.

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