Effect of a Long-Term Physical Activity Intervention on Resting Pulse Rate in Older Persons: Results from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Study

the LIFE Study Group

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Objectives: To assess the utility of a long-term physical activity (PA) intervention for reducing resting pulse rate (RPR) in older persons. Design: Community. Setting: Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Study. Participants: Individuals aged 70 to 89 (N = 1,635, 67.2% women) were randomized to a moderate-intensity PA intervention (n = 818) or a health education–based successful aging (SA) intervention (n = 817). Measurements: RPR was recorded at baseline and 6, 18, and 30 months. Longitudinal changes in RPR of intervention groups were compared using a mixed-effects analysis of covariance model for repeated-measure outcomes, generating least squares means with standard errors (SEs) or 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results: Mean duration of the study was 2.6 years (median 2.7 years, interquartile range 2.3–3.1 years). The average effect of the PA intervention on RPR over the course of the study period was statistically significant but clinically small (average intervention difference = 0.84 beats/min; 95% CI = 0.17–1.51; Paverage =.01), with the most pronounced effect observed at 18 months (PA, 66.5 beats/min (SE 0.32 beats/min); SA, 67.8 beats/min (SE 0.32 beats/min); difference = 1.37 beats/min, 95% CI = 0.48–2.26 beats/min). The relationship became somewhat weaker and was not statistically significant at 30 months. There were no significant differences between several prespecified subgroups. Conclusion: A long-term moderate-intensity PA program was associated with a small and clinically insignificant slowing of RPR in older persons. Whether PA can deliver a beneficial reduction in RPR requires further examination in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2511-2516
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016



  • older persons
  • physical activity
  • resting pulse rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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