Navigation Links
With Age, Focus on Body Shifts From Appearance to Function

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- For older Americans who decide to get more physically active, a new study finds that performance often trumps appearance.

The boost in body functioning that older adults gained from about six months of exercise proved more satisfying than any change in appearance, especially among men, according to the research. This suggest that with advancing years, a shift in emphasis may occur, one that puts a premium on a well-functioning body over a "hot" body, experts said.

"If we can get older adults to become more physically active, there are other benefits related to quality of life," said study author Renee Umstattd, assistant professor of health education at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. While many adults think of exercise as helping to prevent or delay chronic disease, Umstattd said her study shows there is much more to it than that.

Her study, published online in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, looked at more than 1,800 men and women, average age 69, enrolled in the Active for Life program at 12 sites across the United States. None of them had exercised regularly before the study, and they participated in motivational sessions by phone or in classes throughout the trial.

Participants were asked to do 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week through any activity of their choice, including walking, for the duration of the program, which lasted either five or six months.

At the start, most participants reported being "a little dissatisfied" with their body's appearance, but at the program's conclusion participants liked their bodies more -- or at least disliked them less. They reported, on average, an almost "neutral" feeling, meaning they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their body appearance, Umstattd said.

And when paticipants asked about how well their bodies functioned (as opposed to appearance), at the outset most were either dissatisfied or neutral. After the program ended, the average response was ''almost a little satisfied'' with body functioning, Umstattd said.

Gender seemed to influence older people's views on their bodies. Men thought that having a body work well was more important than women did, and men also cared less about appearance than did women, the researchers found.

Overall, greater improvements in satisfaction with body function were associated with younger age, better health at the outset of the program, reduced body mass and greater amount of physical activity.

Previous research has linked declines in body function with reduced self-esteem and identity, the researcher said. And this study confirmed that as satisfaction with appearance and function grew, symptoms of depression declined. But the mental-health boost was even greater with perceived gains in bodily function than with changes in appearance, the study found.

Whites were more likely than blacks to report greater satisfaction with body functioning and appearance at the study's conclusion. The reasons for this were unclear but might be because the whites tended to have more room for improvement, the study said.

The overall study findings make sense to Colin Milner, founder of the International Council on Active Aging.

"You may not be as vain as you were before," he said of older exercisers. With age, many people come to appreciate that their body is functioning well. They are likely to say: "It is more important that I am able to get up and walk and play with my grandkids than my overall appearance," he said.

And even if you are still carrying a few extra pounds, he said, you are probably happier ''because you are able to do what you want to do."

More information

For more on active aging, visit the International Council on Active Aging.

SOURCES: Renee Umstattd, Ph.D., assistant professor, health education, Baylor University, Waco, Texas; Colin Milner, founder, International Council on Active Aging; Annals of Behavioral Medicine, August 2011, online; .

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Obesity counseling should focus on neurobehavioral processes, not personal choice, researchers say
2. Refocusing the boom in biomarker research
3. Sex on Six Legs is focus of UC Riverside biologists book
4. R&D collaboration focuses on new system for measuring and improving human vision
5. New IUPUI Center for Urban Health focuses on half the worlds population
6. New Memory Theory Focuses on Brain-Wave Levels
7. New Guidelines Put Focus on Vitamin D Deficiency
8. The future of wireless body area networks is the focus of a June 19-20 workshop at WPI
9. Medicare payment adjustments -- focus of new IOM report releasing June 1
10. More focus needed on mental health triage in disaster preparedness, Johns Hopkins bioethicists urge
11. Altruistic decision making focus of NIDAs Addiction Science Award
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
With Age, Focus on Body Shifts From Appearance to Function
(Date:11/30/2015)... PA (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... to a new study by UPMC and KingMed Diagnostics ... over three years found that consultation with UPMC pathologists resulted in significantly altered ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... , ... Two years ago, Debbie Gregory, the CEO of, found herself ... Meditation (TM). After encouraging a number of veterans to go through the program, ... the talk. , TM is becoming one of the best alternative treatments for Post-Traumatic ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Brenntag ... exclusive channel partner for the Nutraceutical Specialties products into oral solid dosage in ... immediately. , “We are pleased to announce our expanded distribution agreement with ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... ... While powdered supplements and drinks can reduce food preparation time, locating the ... has found an easy to keep track of the scoop. , He developed a ... a canister or other container handy and readily accessible. As such, it prevents the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... In an interview with Andy Mitchell ... top ophthalmologist on Long Island’s east end. During the broadcast, entitled “Eyes: the Window ... treatment of glaucoma and cataracts, and how a visit with his grandmother to her ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... PUNE, India , November 30, ... --> --> ... deal trends for 2010 - 2015 ... activity for a range of deal ... (M&A) and strategic alliances. ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  The fee-for-service ... in U.S. medical imaging is on its ... accountable care payer-provider contracts are set to ... their wake, alter provider-vendor relationships. The shift ... push forward new purchasing frameworks in the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ST. LOUIS , Nov. 30, 2015  Premera ... today announced an early renewal of the companies, long-standing ... will now extend through at least 2019. ... pharmacy benefit manager capabilities during a competitive review and ... offer the best health plan integration and deliver the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: