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Inactive Adults with Disabilities May Face Chronic Disease Risk: Report

A Vital Signs report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicates that working age, inactive adults with disabilities are 50% more likely to face chronic diseases, including stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

According to a news release issued by the CDC, the report suggests that 47% of adults with disabilities who are able to engage in aerobic physical activity do not get any. Additionally, the results indicate that 22% of these adults are not active enough, and only 44% of adults with disabilities who met with a doctor in the past year received a recommendation for physical activity.

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Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC director, states that while physical activity is the closest thing to a “wonder drug we have… Unfortunately, many adults with disabilities don’t get regular physical activity. That can change if doctors and other healthcare providers take a more active role in helping their patients with disabilities develop a physical fitness plan that’s right for them.”

Key benefits that yield from regular aerobic physical activity, the release notes, include increased heart and lung function, improved performance in daily living activities, enhanced independence, decreased chances of developing chronic disease, and improved mental health.

The release states that the CDC analyzed data from the 2009 to 2012 National Health Interview Survey for the report. The CDC also placed a key focus on the link between physical activity levels and chronic diseases among US adults aged 18 to 64 years old with disabilities, dividing them by disability status and type. These individuals included adults with serious difficulty walking or climbing up stairs, seeing, hearing, concentrating, remembering, or making decisions. Using the 2010 data, the release says the study also investigated the prevalence of receiving a health professional recommendation for physical activity and the link to the level of aerobic physical activity.

Among the study’s results, its key findings suggested that working-age adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have a stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer than their peers without disabilities. The results also note that nearly half of adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity, and further, inactive adults with disabilities were 50% more likely to report at least one chronic disease than active adults with disabilities. Additionally, adults with disabilities were found to be 82% more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it.

Coleen Boyle, PhD, MS hyg, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, emphasizes that, “It is essential we bring together adults with disabilities, health professionals, and community leaders to address resource needs to increase physical activity for people with disabilities.”

The release reports that the CDC has created a resource page for doctors and other health professionals with information intended to assist in the recommendation of physical activity to adult patients with disabilities.

[Source: CDC]