Correlation Found Between Disabilities, Inactive Lifestyles, and Chronic Disease

A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that high levels of inactivity increases the chances of developing chronic diseases in individuals with a physical disability. Nearly two-thirds of American adults with physical limitations that could otherwise engage in exercise, perform little to no physical activity.

The data showed and confirmed that certain chronic conditions could be prevented when adults with limitations actively participate in exercise. In fact, the study revealed that inactive adults living with a physical disability were 50% more likely to become ill with a chronic disease compared to physically disabled, but active, adults.

Of the 21 million U.S. adults observed in the study, one in two individuals living with a disability, ages 19 to 64, do not engage in aerobic physical activity compared to an estimated 1 in 4 adults who live active lifestyles without a disability.  

Government officials offered a partial solution to increase awareness of this issue. Ileana Arias, CDC Principle Deputy Director, urged physicians to promote physical activity to patients with disabilities by providing the resources that could help individuals overcome physical limitations and reduce the risks of chronic disease.

"The bottom line is that physical activity is a wonder drug, and everyone can benefit from it," Arias said. "All of us have a responsibility to help adults with disabilities, including our friends, our family members and neighbors, be more physically active."

Disability and Disease

Similar studies which observed the effects of lack of exercise in those with disabilities have released data highlighting a close correlation between chronic diseases and those with physical disabilities. According to another recent CDC study, those with lifelong disabilities were more susceptible to chronic diseases. Patients under observation were 2.92 times more likely to develop heart disease; 1.61 times more likely to develop cancer; and 2.57 times more likely to develop diabetes. However, the risks of disease in individuals with limitations can be reduced with physical activity, proper guidance, and education.  

Get Informed

Data for the Vital Signs report was collected between 2009 and 2012 from the National Health Interview Survey which monitored the activity levels of adults with disabilities who still had the ability for physical activeness. The report also recorded how often a patient with disabilities was approached by their physician to be more physically active. Data showed that roughly 44% of these adults were encouraged by their physicians to be more physically active within a one year period. 82% claimed they were more likely to engage in exercise if recommended by a doctor.

"By including discussions and recommendations for physical activity during all medical visits, professionals can help adults with disabilities be more physically active in ways that work for them," Arias said. "It's critical that none of us underestimate the value of physical activity in our lives or underestimate the capabilities of those with disabilities."

Start Here

Don't let your physical limitation rule your life. If you've suffered a disabling injury or have been diagnosed with a limiting condition and your doctor has suggested a change in your exercise routine, we can help. We can provide you with the necessary instruction to gradually increase your abilities and strengthen your body. Our group of experienced physical therapists is happy to educate you about your body to help you on the road towards a more active lifestyle.