Brisk walk staves off disability in oldies

Washington: Just one hour a week of brisk walking may stave off disability in older adults with arthritis pain, aching or stiffness in a knee, hip, ankle or foot, according to a study unveiled. “This is less than 10 minutes a day for people to maintain their independence. It’s very doable,” said, said Dorothy Dunlop, a professor at Northwestern University in the US.

“This minimum threshold may motivate inactive older adults to begin their path towards a physically active lifestyle with the wide range of health benefits promoted by physical activity,” said Dunlop, lead author of the study published in the American Journal of  Preventive Medicine.

About two in five people with osteoarthritis – most of whom have it in their lower joints – develop disability limitations, researchers said. The study found an hour of weekly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity allowed older adults to maintain their ability to perform daily tasks like getting dressed or cross a street before a traffic light walk  signal changed.

The weekly hour of exercise reduced their risk of mobility disability by 85 per cent and their risk of activities of daily living disability by almost 45 per cent. Four years after the start of the study, 24 per cent of adults who did not get the weekly hour of brisk physical activity were walking too slowly to safely cross the street, and 23 per cent reported problems performing their morning routine.

The researchers analysed four years of data from more than 1,500 adults in the national Osteoarthritis Initiative from Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. All the adults had pain, aching or stiffness in lower extremity joints from osteoarthritis but were free of disability when they began the study. Their physical activity was monitored using accelerometers.

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