Posted on May 22, 2014, 6 a.m.
Whereas strenuous occupational physical activity in midlife increases the risk of mobility limitation in old age, leisure-time physical activity decreases the risk.
Heavy physical labor is often repetitive, wears the body and lasts for several hours a day. On the contrast, leisure-time physical activity is designed to improve fitness and provide recreation and a typical exercise session lasts for one or two hours. Even though both are based on muscle activity and result in energy expenditure, their long-term consequences are different. Taina Rantanen, from the Academy of Finland’s Gerontology Research Center (Finland), and colleagues evaluated data collected on 5,200 public sector employees enrolled in the Finnish Longitudinal Study on Municipal Employees (FLAME), who were ages 44 to 58 years at the start of the 28-year long study. The team observed that strenuous occupational physical activity in midlife increases the risk of mobility limitation in old age, whereas leisure-time physical activity decreases the risk. The study authors write that: “Findings suggest that [leisure-time activity] and [occupational physical activity] in midlife have independent, inverse effects on mobility in old age in terms of a harmful effect of vigorous [occupational physical activity] and a protective effect of vigorous [leisure-time activity].”
Hinrichs T, von Bonsdorff MB, Tormakangas T, von Bonsdorff ME, Kulmala J, Seitsamo J, Nygard CH, Ilmarinen J, Rantanen T. “Inverse Effects of Midlife Occupational and Leisure Time Physical Activity on Mobility Limitation in Old Age-A 28-Year Prospective Follow-Up Study.” J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 Apr 14.