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Cooper Institute Participates in LIFE Study to Help Older Adults

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03/15/2004

New Study Looks for Ways to Delay Disability in Older Adults The Cooper Institute One of Four Research Centers for Study

As the life expectancy of Americans increases, learning how to prevent or delay age-related physical disability has become a major health priority. The Cooper Institute is one of four centers in the country that will study whether physical activity and other lifestyle changes can help older adults retain their independence.

The Lifestyle Intervention and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study is funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and will include 400 adults who are 70 to 85 years old. It will especially target those who are having difficulty doing daily activities such as walking, getting out of chairs or climbing stairs. The study is also being conducted in Palo Alto, Calif., Pittsburg, Pa., and Winston Salem, N.C.

"Other studies have looked at pieces of the disability puzzle, such as seeing whether increasing muscle strength affects the ability to walk further," said Steven Blair, P.E.D., president and CEO of The Cooper Institute. "But we want to answer the larger question: Does a program of activity or change in lifestyle patterns prevent physical disability? Our goal is to find strategies that will help people remain independent longer so they can live in their own homes and participate in day-to-day activities."

Study participants will be randomly assigned to one of two health programs. One group will attend classes and demonstrations promoting successful aging and will include topics like nutrition, communicating with healthcare professionals and foot care. The other group will participate in moderate-intensity physical activity that includes aerobic, strength and flexibility training. Participants will receive free health screenings during the one-year study.

"During the course of their lives about half of all persons age 65 years or older will become so severely disabled as to need a nursing home admission," said Marco Pahor, M.D., from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C., who will lead the study. "What we learn in LIFE has the promise of benefiting a very large segment of the older population."

The LIFE investigators are Steven Blair, P.E.D., M.S., The Cooper Institute, Dallas; Abby King, Ph.D., at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; Anne Newman, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Stephen Kritchevsky, Ph.D., at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The centers are currently recruiting participants for the study that begins in April. Those interested in the study should call 972-716-7032.

About the Cooper Institute
The Cooper Institute is the nonprofit division of The Cooper Aerobics Center and focuses on preventive medicine research and health education, promotion and certification. Areas of research include epidemiology, exercise physiology, behavior change, cancer prevention, children's health, obesity, nutrition, aging, diabetes, hypertension, weight management, health communication and other health issues. Certification and training courses are delivered to more than 6,500 health and fitness professionals each year. In addition to the Dallas location, The Cooper Institute has a research center in Denver, Colo., and an outreach center in the Oak Cliff area of South Dallas. For more information about The Cooper Institute, visit www.cooperinst.org.