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Maintaining mobility in late life. II. Smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and body mass index.

  • Author(s): LaCroix, AZ
  • Guralnik, JM
  • Berkman, LF
  • Wallace, RB
  • Satterfield, S
  • et al.

While positive health behaviors have been shown to extend life, their association with extending active life has not been well investigated. In this report, several health behaviors were investigated in relation to maintaining mobility during 4 years of follow-up among 6,981 men and women aged 65 years and older with intact mobility at baseline between 1981 and 1983 who lived in one of three communities: East Boston, Massachusetts; Iowa and Washington counties, Iowa; and New Haven, Connecticut. Intact mobility, defined as the ability to climb up and down stairs and walk a half mile, was determined annually by interview, and study subjects were classified into one of three categories at the end of 4 years of follow-up: 1) maintained mobility (55.1%); 2) lost mobility (36.2%); or 3) died without evidence of having lost mobility prior to death (8.7%). After adjustment for age and all of the health behaviors, risk of losing mobility was significantly associated with current smoking, not consuming alcohol compared with small-to-moderate amounts of alcohol consumption, high (> 80th percentile) compared with moderate (21-80th percentiles) body mass index, and low physical activity levels in both men and women. These findings suggest that positive health behaviors can not only extend longevity but also reduce the risk of losing mobility and independence in later life.

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