Yale Researchers Seek Older Adults for Study Of the Effects of Exercise and Health Education on Mobility Disability

Yale University is seeking adults between the ages of 70 and 89 to take part in a lifestyle intervention study to determine whether exercise or health education can prevent or delay major mobility disability in older adults.

Little is known about whether specific interventions can help prevent major disability, which is defined as the inability to walk a quarter of a mile, or about four blocks. For older adults, staving off disability could help maintain physical independence and enhance the quality of their later years.

Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study is the largest randomized controlled trial ever conducted on physical activity and health education in older adults. The trial will enroll 1,600 sedentary older adults who are at risk of mobility disability. Yale is one of eight institutions around the country involved in the study.

The LIFE Study will compare the long-term effectiveness and practicality of two interventions: a physical activity program and a successful health education program for older adults.

“We want to change how people live,” said principal investigator Thomas Gill, M.D., professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and a specialist in the health of older adults. “Maintaining independence for older adults is both a public health and a clinical priority, and modifying lifestyle is an important approach to maintaining independence.”

Eligible participants will be randomly assigned to take part in either a structured physical activity program that includes moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking and exercises to improve strength, balance and flexibility, or in an education program that includes health-themed workshops and supervised stretching. Individuals will be followed for up to approximately four years. The overall trial will run for six years.

Investigators will examine whether, in addition to preventing major disabilities, physical activity and health education affect cognitive function, cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary events, serious fall injuries and performance of everyday activities. They will also look at quality-of-life measures such as depressive symptoms, sleep quality, stress and satisfaction with life, and assess the cost-effectiveness of these programs for older people.

To enroll or learn more about the LIFE Study, call 203-785-7597 or toll-free: 888-785-7597.

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326