An Hour A Week Of Physical Activity Can Prevent Disabilities

There is good news for older adults who may be experiencing pain in their hips or legs to be able to prevent any disability from arthritic pain through physical activity for just a minimum of 10 minutes per day or an hour a week which was revealed in a study published on Monday, April 1, 2019.

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine did a study and found that for older adults to avoid limitations to their movements it was enough for them to do less than 10 minutes a day of moderate physical activity.

Data from more than 1,500 adults was analyzed by researchers who participated in the Osteoarthritis Initiative.  They were from four areas in the eastern part of the US:  Baltimore, Maryland; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. All participants were not disabled but suffered from osteoarthritis pain in their lower extremity joints in ankles, knees and hips.

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and its goal was to see what minimum amount of physical activity that seniors could do and still receive preventive health benefits.

Dorothy Dunlop, who is the lead author of the study and a professor of preventive medicine with the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said in an interview with USA TODAY, that it is a daunting task for anyone to even get started to do physical activity, even though it is well known that physical activity can help to prevent disability.

Hence the study to find out just how much physical activity is necessary to prevent any disability in the lives of older adults.  Researchers used devices that measure activity (accelerometers) to monitor the participants.  They found that older adults had an 85 percent lower risk of any mobility disability if they completed at least one hour a week of moderate activity. Moderate activity was defined by the study as one meter per second.  

The study results showed that participants even lowered their risk of getting movement disability which would affect their daily routines like getting dressed or even walking across a room.

Currently, older adults are encouraged to get at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate physical activity by Federal guidelines on health.  Dunlop and researchers are hoping that the results of the study will motivate inactive older adults to become active with just 10 minutes a day to put them on the road to preventing physical disability and living longer pain free independent lives.

“The more active you are, the more health benefits you get,” she said. “But if you can start to do at least 10 minutes a day of moderate activity, that may help you hold on to your abilities to stay independent.”