Physical Activity Matters

Even a very modest amount of exercise might be better than none at all when it comes to preventing disability from arthritis, according to research published in the December 2006 issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. The study followed more than 3,500 U.S. adults with arthritis.

Researchers found that those who were getting some regular physical activity at the study's start were less likely than their sedentary peers to develop worsening problems with walking, climbing stairs and other daily activities. In addition, exercisers were more likely than inactive adults to show improvements in any mobility problems they had at the outset. The findings were published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism in December 2005.

The new findings suggest that even modest levels of exercise can help prevent disability from arthritis, or even reverse it in some cases. Study participants who got less than 30 minutes per day of moderate activity or less than 20 minutes of vigorous exercise, were still less likely than inactive arthritis sufferers to show functional decline over time.

In the study, participants were divided into three groups based on their reported leisure-time activities at the start of the study: an inactive group, an insufficiently active group, and a group that got the recommended level of exercise for adults - at least 30 minutes of moderate activity like walking or gardening on most days of the week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise like running or swimming.

Overall, adults in this latter group were 41 percent less likely to show functional decline over the next 2 years than their inactive peers were. The risk reduction was almost as great for those who exercised at a less-than-ideal level. The researchers wrote that: "Given the high prevalence of arthritis, even modest increases in rates of lifestyle physical activity among older adults could make a substantial contribution to disability-free life expectancy." They also noted that it is always a good idea for sedentary people with arthritis to consult their doctor before taking up any activity.

As with most all health related issues, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Have you had your ounce of prevention today?

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