Older adults who even take short walks around the hospital during a stay may actually leave sooner, according to a new study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers studied 162 hospital-bound seniors by attaching a step activity monitor about the size of a pager to their ankles.
"Using these monitors, we were able to see a correlation between even relatively small amounts of increased mobility and shorter lengths of stay in the hospital," said Steve Fisher, lead author of the paper. "We still found this effect after we used a statistical model to adjust for the differing severities of the patients' illnesses."
He added that extended immobility during a hospital stay can lead to detrimental effects regarding independence, exercise and quality of life. Those who have orthopedic or neurological conditions may especially benefit from increased activity.
In short, a brief walk around the hospital can be much healthier than staying in bed.
Older adults who are interested in shortening the time spent in a medical facility may also want to invest in a medical alarm. This device can be installed in a residence and used to send a medical alert to doctors, so that patients can recover safely at home.