Cutting Disability Risk Is No Sweat

by Matilda Charles


The British Medical Journal has reported some findings that will cheer

quite a number of seniors: We don’t necessarily have to do strenuous

workouts to lower our risk of becoming disabled.


During the two-year study, 1,680 participants ages 49 to 83 in Maryland,

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island wore accelerometers to measure the

intensity and duration of their daily living activities. Key activities

included cooking, grocery shopping, making phone calls, walking across the

room, bathing and getting dressed.


All of the participants were free of disability but were either at risk

for knee osteoarthritis or already had it.


The outcome showed that the more time spent in light-intensity activities,

the lower the association with disability, as well as reduced progression

of existing disability. It appears that the crucial factor is the amount

of time spent in activities, not the intensity of an activity. So spending

more time during the day simply moving your body may reduce disability.

Granted, previous research indicated that 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate

to vigorous activity can reduce disability, but some of us just aren’t

able to handle moderate exercise, much less vigorous.


So, just how long do we need to engage in light activities to give us the

edge in lowering our disability risk? That depends on how far you want

to reduce your risk. Spending four hours a day will reduce your risk 43

percent. The more minutes, the greater the reduction in risk.


But even light housework each day or getting up during TV commercials can

cut your risk of becoming disabled by osteoarthritis. All you have to do

is move!


Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.


Send email to

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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