/publications/issue/2005/2005-06/2005-06-9618

Exercise Aids Functioning

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A recent study from Northwestern University has shown that adults aged 65 years and older with arthritis were less likely to experience physical limitations if they remained physically active. The 2-year study found that two thirds of the 5700 study participants did not get regular, vigorous exercise and had twice the risk of decline in physical functioning as those who were more active. Physical limitations included trouble with walking short distances, preparing meals, shopping, bathing, and dressing. The researchers assessed the patients'functioning and found that 14% of those who had no limitations at the beginning of the study experienced a decline in physical function.

Lead author Dorothy Dunlop, PhD, noted that many arthritis sufferers have other health conditions and that exercising, in general, would help improve their overall health. She and her colleagues determined that, if all the people in the study had exercised regularly, one third of the cases of physical decline could have been prevented. Dr. Dunlop further noted that it is a myth that people with arthritis should not exercise. They should, however, consult a physician before taking up any exercise.