A novel functional fitness score and its association with obesity status in non-institutionalized males and females aged 65 or over: The exernet multicenter study

Julian Alcazar, Sara Vila-Maldonado, Raquel Pedrero-Chamizo, Alba Gómez-Cabello, Luis Espino, Narcís Gusi, Gerardo Villa, Marcela González-Gross, José Antonio Casajús, Ignacio Ara


Introduction: Performing activities of daily living independently and safely requires adequate levels of strength, endurance and agility. However, functional fitness (FF) components have been usually evaluated separately. We aimed to create a novel global FF score and to calculate its relationship with adiposity levels in the elderly. Methods: Muscle mass, body fat and waist circumference were obtained in 3,136 non-institutionalized Spanish elderly subjects. Physical performance was evaluated by the Senior Fitness Test battery (upper- and lower-body strength, agility and endurance). The participants were categorized as highly fit (HF; moderate-high functioning in all FF capacities), moderately fit (MF; low-functioning in 1-3 FF measures) and unfit (UF; low-functioning in all FF capacities) according to the FF score. Odds ratios for obesity, central obesity and sarcopenic obesity were calculated according to the FF score. Results: The percentage of UF older adults was 6.9%. Agility was the most impaired physical condition among all the participants. A lower FF score was significantly related with a higher prevalence of obesity, central obesity and sarcopenic obesity. Conclusion: A strong relationship between lower levels of FF and higher levels of adiposity was observed. In order to provide a greater independence in later life we should emphasize about the need for concerted efforts to prevent and treat the FF decline with aging.

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