Aging and Mobility Mobility impairment is an integral element of quality of life in old age, serving as both an indicator and prognostic indicator for both nonagenarians and geriatricians alike. Studies have revealed how decreases in walking speed and balance have predicted increasing multimorbidity, health care resource utilization, nursing home admission, mortality risk as well as functional limitations such as reduced ability to rise from sitting or standing, walk independently without assistance etc.
Mobility decline results from the gradual accumulation of impairments to various bodily systems – including central nervous system, muscles, joints and energy/sensory physiological systems. At first these impairments are compensated for by adaptive capacity of the body and only become evident once its compensatory mechanisms no longer suffice; their early preclinical changes that precede mobility limitations remain unknown, as do their mechanisms that mediate progression to overt mobility limitations.
Age-related changes typically include the loss of neurons in the brain and spinal cord as well as reduced neuron-muscle connections, leading to decreased processing speed and signal strength and variability going out to muscle fibers. This makes it harder for them to produce consistent amounts of force while maintaining postural stability resulting in slower gait speed.
Lifestyle factors like physical activity, diet and weight have an incredible effect on the rate of mobility decline in older people. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of exercise intervention programs at reducing mobility limitation rates in this group of older individuals; consequently it is essential that we implement strategies promoting moderate intensity exercise programs among young people to help stave off mobility limitations later in life.