Physical fitness, physical activity, and functional limitation in adults aged 40 and older

Youjie Huang, Caroline A. Macera, Steven N. Blair, Patricia A. Brill, Harold W. Kohl, Jennie J. Kronenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Purpose: A cohort of middle-aged and older men and women were followed for an average of 5.5 yr to examine the association between physical fitness, physical activity, and the prevalence of functional limitation. Methods: The participants received medical assessments between 1980 and 1988 and responded to a mail-back survey regarding functional status in 1990. Results: Among 3495 men and 1175 women over 40 yr of age at baseline, 350 (7.5%) reported at least one functional limitation in daily or household activities at follow- up. The prevalence of functional limitation was higher among women than men. Physically fit and physically active participants reported less functional limitation than unfit or sedentary participants. After controlling for age and other risk factors, the prevalence of functional limitation was lower for both moderately fit (odds ratio = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.2-0.6) and high fit men (odds ratio = 0.3, 95% CI = 0.2-0.4), compared with low fit men. Corresponding figures for women were 0.5 (0.3-0.7) and 0.3 (0.2-0.5) for moderately fit and high fit women. The association between physical activity and functional limitation was similar to the data for physical fitness. Conclusions: These data support a protective effect of physical fitness and physical activity on functional limitation among older adults and extend this protective effect to middle-aged men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1430-1435
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1998


  • Disability
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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