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Lack of workouts increases the risk of chronic diseases, experts say

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Half of the 21 million Americans who have a disability don't exercise, and that lack of exercise is jeopardizing their health, federal officials reported Tuesday.

Among these 11 million inactive adults are people who have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, have problems hearing or seeing, or have trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions, officials said.

Many of these disabled adults are able to exercise, but don't do so regularly or at all, Ileana Arias, principal deputy director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a news conference.

"We are very concerned about this, because working-age adults with disabilities who get no aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely to have cancer, diabetes, stroke or heart disease than those who get the recommended amount of physical activity," Arias said.

"We know that regular aerobic physical activity increases heart and lung function, improves daily living activities and independence, decreases the chance of developing chronic diseases and also improves mental health," Arias said. "If doctors and health professionals recommend aerobic physical activity to adults with disabilities, then adults with disabilities are 82 percent more likely to be physically active," she added.

Speaking at the news conference, Dianna Carroll, an epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, said, "We don't know if disability leads to inactivity and chronic disease, or if inactivity and chronic disease lead to disability."

What's clear, she said, is that exercise has the potential to prevent chronic disease, improve the health of someone with a chronic disease and help reduce the risk of additional chronic diseases.

But, 47 percent of adults with disabilities who are able to do aerobic physical activity don't do so. An additional 22 percent aren't active enough. Yet, only 44 percent of these adults who saw a doctor in the past year left with a recommendation to exercise, Carroll said.

According to Carroll, 57 percent of adults with limited mobility, 40 percent of adults with memory and thinking problems, 36 percent of those with serious vision problems and 33 percent of those with serious hearing difficulties get no aerobic exercise.

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