Exercise Improves Function in Elderly Hospital Patients

Exercise may soon be the preferred treatment for elderly hospital patients. New findings, published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, show that light exercise significantly helps older adults to improve their function when performing household chores.

In the study, researchers separated 300 elderly hospital patients, 70 years of age and older, into two groups: the supervised exercise group and the non-exercise group (which consisted of standard hospital care). Patients in the exercise group performed light exercise such as walking, strength and flexibility training, and were encouraged to continue exercising when they returned home from the hospital.

Researchers were hoping to find that the exercise group would reduce the length of the patients’ hospital stay and improve their overall health. While this did not occur, researchers did find that patients in the exercise group improved their ability to perform household chores, such as shopping, cooking and other light activities, when they went home. The patients in the exercise group performed their chores significantly better than patients in the non-exercise group one month after leaving the hospital. In addition, 28 percent of the patients continued exercising after returning home, and none of the exercisers experienced injuries.

Researchers believe that light exercise may help elderly patients to counteract the physical deconditioning that occurs during hospitalization, and improve function for household chores.