February 14, 2022

For Older Patients, Exercise Could Speed Recovery Following Hospitalization

Even though bed rest is commonly prescribed for older adults recovering from a hospital stay, many health care professionals are highlighting the risks associated with such inactivity.

In one study on older hospital patients from 2008, scientists found that just 10 days of bed rest resulted in a substantial loss of patients’ strength and power. The loss of physical strength can also drastically weaken a senior’s mobility.

Now, a new study from JAMA Internal Medicine found that in-hospital exercise programs may be the key in helping seniors regain their strength before they return home. In the study, researchers in Spain divided 200 older hospital patients into two groups. One group followed an exercise program for three days while the other group received bed rest in the same period of time.

While patients who were prescribed bed rest reported limited gains in physical performance and pain, those who participated in the exercise program experienced far less pain and twice the physical performance gains. Although the results suggest that exercise can help improve an older patient’s mobility after hospitalization, the authors of the study warned that “improvement in activities of daily living in older or frail patients requires a more intensive approach than merely promoting mobility.”

“The study is a strong indicator that exercise helps older patients to return to their normal routines more quickly,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “There are also other ways that seniors can maintain their autonomy, like setting up home improvements to prevent falls.

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