A specific program of moderate-intensity physical activity, combined with personalized dietary advice, combats the fragility inherent in aging by reducing the risk of disability. This is confirmed by a European study conducted by Italian researchers from the Agostino Gemelli Irccs University Hospital Foundation – Catholic University, Rome Campus and published in the ‘British Medical Journal’.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Department of Geriatric and Orthopedic Sciences at Catholic University, Campus di Rome and the CHU Agostino Gemelli Irccs Foundation led by Professors Roberto Bernabei, Francesco Landi and Emanuele Marzetti as part of the Sprintt study (Sarcopenia and physical railty in old people: multi-component treatment strategies), European project funded in 2014 by Innovative Medicines Initiative (Imi-Joint Undertaking), a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries. The Sprintt project has defined a new clinical condition, “physical frailty and sarcopenia” which has generated a new line of research in the field of healthy aging and which opens the way to innovative treatments for the prevention of inherent physical decline. to the aging process.

Over a 3-year observation period, the combination of aerobic exercise (such as walking), strength, flexibility, and balance, along with personalized nutritional counseling, reduced the risk of developing disability by 22%. motor function in elderly residents. characteristics of aging: physical frailty and reduction of musculature (sarcopenia), explain professors Bernabei, Landi and Marzetti.

Fragility is inherent in aging, it is the first sign of the same and the diminished ability to oppose negative events. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated this by systematically affecting the elderly. From frailty, we move on to functional limitations and motor handicaps to determine “pathological” aging, a heavy burden both for the individual and for the sustainability of socio-health systems. The opposite of the desired successful aging. While most people do not expect perfect health in old age, many hope that their physical condition will allow them to work as long as they want, to go out and socialize, to be independent and able to fend for themselves. Recent studies have shown that the physical performance of older people is associated with the ability to socialize and the number of sustained interpersonal interactions. Moreover, the use of health and care resources increases with worsening functional decline, often independently of the number and nature of any pathologies present. The economic costs of motor disability in Italy and Europe have increased over the years to reach different points of GDP.

From the Istat report “The health conditions of the elderly population in Italy – Year 2019” of July 2021, it can be seen that in Italy there are approximately 3 million and 860,000 elderly people with serious difficulties in the basic activities of daily living, equal to more than 28% of the population aged 65 and over. Of these, 2 million and 833,000 have serious difficulty walking or going up or down stairs without the help of a person or the use of aids. There are also important differences between genders and territories. People with severe difficulties in motor functions and basic activities are more concentrated among women living in southern regions than men and women living in the center or north. It is estimated that in Italy about 1 million and 400 thousand the elderly (10.1%) lives with a strong reduction in their autonomy in the essential activities of daily living, compared to an EU22 average of 8.5%.

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