SAN DIEGO?A program consisting of home-based exercise and weight control measures can improve the physical ?func?tioning of elderly persons with osteo?arthritis (OA).
In a controlled trial that randomized elderly OA patients to a program of exercise and weight control (E+WC), exercise alone (E), weight control alone (WC), or usual care (UC), all groups except those assigned to UC showed improvements in the distance they were able to walk in 6 minutes and in the amount of weight lost. The greatest benefits oc-cur?red with interventions that incorporated exercise.
The study included 112 adults (90% men; mean age, 68 years) with a baseline body mass index of 34.5 kg/m2. After 16 weeks, the E+WC and E groups had the greatest increases in distance walked (Table). Both groups lost weight, but the greatest loss was in the WC group.
Investigator Eileen Collins, RN, PhD, of the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital, Hines, Ill, who presented the data at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, noted that the elderly patients in the exercise groups rated their improvements as meaningful. They also reported an overall decrease in pain, she said.
Other studies have produced similar results. "The fact that this was primarily home based...is the unusual aspect of this study," Dr Collins said. Even so, compliance was fairly good.
According to Dr Collins, this kind of program can fit into a primary care practice well if physicians can motivate their patients. For example, when patients were shown their gains from week to week they "appreciated that and wanted more, so they continued," she said. The benefits of physicians encouraging their OA patients to be physically active have been previously de?m?on?strated.