Pittsburgh, January 24: A recent study has found that how fatigued certain activities make an older adult feel can estimate that the likely death is less than three years away.
The research has been published in the 'Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences'. It is the first study to establish perceived physical fatigability as an indicator of earlier mortality. Older people who scored the highest in terms of how tired or exhausted they would feel after activities were more than twice as likely to die in the following 2.7 years compared to their counterparts who scored lower.
Fatigability was assessed for a range of activities using the novel Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale.
"This is the time of year when people make--and break--New Year's resolutions to get more physical activity," said lead author Nancy W. Glynn, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health.
"I hope our findings provide some encouragement to stick with exercise goals. Previous research indicates that getting more physical activity can reduce a person's fatigability. Our study is the first to link more severe physical fatigability to an earlier death. Conversely, lower scores indicate greater energy and more longevity," she added.
Glynn and her colleagues administered the Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale to 2,906 participants aged 60 or older in the Long Life Family Study, an international study that follows family members across two generations. Participants ranged from 0 to 5 how tired they thought or imagined that certain activities--such as a leisurely 30-minute walk, light housework or heavy gardening--would make them.
Follow-up for this work concluded at the end of 2019, to avoid any increased mortality impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave the team an average of 2.7 years of data on each participant.
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