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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Participants Needed for Research Study on the Role of Exercise and Health Education in Preventing Disability

PITTSBURGH, March 3, 2010 – Seniors are needed to find out whether exercise or health education can prevent disability in a multi-center study being launched at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, will explore whether walking, stretching, and balance and strength training in people ages 70 to 89 reduces their risk of “walking disability,” the inability to walk a quarter of a mile.

“Mobility problems are a major quality of life issue for older people,” said Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., professor of epidemiology and medicine, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and co-principal investigator of Pitt’s LIFE Study. “They risk losing independence and needing assistive care. There is some evidence that exercise can help prevent walking disability, but we need to know much more about how it may help in real-world settings.”

Participants will be randomly assigned to receive either education about healthy aging or training in stretching, balance, leg exercises and walking. After following the participants for three years, researchers will evaluate whether the physical activity intervention reduced the risk of major walking disability, serious falls and disability associated with daily living, and improved cognitive function. They also will assess the intervention’s cost-effectiveness.

Pitt’s LIFE Study seeks to enroll 200 participants who are at risk of walking disability at the start of the study. The study is being led by the University of Florida’s Institute on Aging in Gainesville and is partly funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Co-principal investigator of Pitt’s LIFE Study is Stephanie Studenski, M.D., M.P.H., professor of geriatric medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

People interested in finding out more about the LIFE Study or whether they may be eligible should call the University of Pittsburgh at 1-800-872-3653.

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