A new study is shedding light on how physical activity can prevent disability among the elderly.
According to the article in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, adults with lower-extremity pains, aching or stiffness who performed at least one hour of exercise each week were more likely to be free of disability after a four-year period than those who did not.
Researchers observed the patients, ages 49 to 83, over several years.
All were considered disability free at the beginning of the study, but were chosen because they were at increased risk of disability due to issues in lower extremities like knees or ankles.
The report's findings are no surprise to 89-year-old Delores Wilkins, who exercises five days a week at the YMCA in Brown Deer.
She said the fitness classes she participates in prevent her aches and pains from getting worse.
"Both my knees hurt, my back hurts, but that's OK," Wilkins said. "I have to keep moving. I don't want to stop moving."
Seventy-year-old Candace Reinheimer credits four to five days per week of exercise with keeping her generally healthy.
"I'm going to live until who knows when," she said with a laugh. "Hopefully as long as possible, just to drive my kids crazy."
Samantha Koscielak, the YMCA's Group Exercise Coordinator, said its Active Older Adult Programming is designed specifically to promote health and prevent ailments ranging from arthritis to Parkinson's Disease and cancer.
"Active older adults will continue to stay active," she said. "As soon as they start staying home for too long, they're increasing their potential for falls. That can lead to huge injuries."
Koscielak said the Active Older Adult Programming boasts roughly 100 participants.