Walking Around Is the Simplest Way to
Shorten Hospital Stay
Newswise, August 8, 2011 —
Walking around the ward during
hospitalization reduces the length of
geriatric patients' stay in internal wards.
This has been shown in a new
study by Dr. Efrat Shadmi and Dr. Anna
Zisberg of the University of Haifa's
Department of Nursing, funded by the Israeli
Science Foundation and published in the
journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study surveyed 485
participants aged 70 and up, who were
hospitalized for at least two days in the
internal wards of a hospital in Israel. The
participants' physical condition was
examined by means of questionnaires and
those who were confined to a bed or immobile
were excluded from the study.
Those who were not restricted
in mobility were asked about their physical
activity during the course of their
hospitalization, and based on their answers
were divided into two study groups: those
who remained in bed or seated next to it and
those who walked around their rooms and the
The study found that all of
the patients who walked around shortened
their hospital stay by an average day and a
half compared with those who did not
exercise physical mobility.
The study also found that
those who walked around the ward on the
first day of hospitalization shortened their
stay more than the others. The researchers
stated that they found this to be relevant
regardless of the patients' health status.
According to the researchers,
older patients might mistakenly believe that
when they are hospitalized they must stay in
bed. Studies of older adults have shown,
however, that the opposite is true.
"The muscle's reserve
capacity' can decompose quite quickly in
older people. If they shift from a mode of
mobility – even if it was minimal – to a
state of almost complete immobility, and
even for just a few short days of
hospitalization, they could very quickly
lose their muscle 'reserves', resulting in
more difficulties functioning and other
complications. This study, along with other
new studies in the area, shows that walking
really does pay off," the researchers
They also noted that the
study results show that simple intervention
to encourage walking in the geriatric
internal wards ought to be seriously
considered, so as to shorten the length of
the geriatric patient's hospital stay.
"Given the over-occupancy of many hospitals,
this finding can be of great importance,"