The CDC says half of all disabled Americans do not exercise, a problem which is leading to adverse health effects for these individuals.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 21 million disabled Americans, half of which do not exercise. These 11 million inactive adults have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, have trouble seeing or hearing, or face cognitive challenges such as difficulty concentrating, loss of memory, and trouble making decisions. Many of these individuals are able to exercise but chose not to regularly or at all. The consequences of lack of physical activity include a higher risk of cancer, Type II diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
“We know that regular aerobic physical activity increases heart and lung function, improves daily living activities and independence, decreases the chance of developing chronic diseases and also improves mental health,” said Ilena Arias said, principal deputy director at the CDC, during a press conference. “If doctors and health professionals recommend aerobic physical activity to adults with disabilities, then adults with disabilities are 82 percent more likely to be physically active.”
Exercise can potentially prevent or reduce the risk of chronic disease as well boost the health of individuals with chronic disease. Yet 47 percent of disabled adults who are capable of aerobic activity do not engage in it. According to Dianna Carroll, CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, the percentages of adults with some form of disability who also do not exercise enough are much higher in all categories of disability compared with the 26 percent of disability-free adults who do not exercise.
“We don’t know if disability leads to inactivity and chronic disease, or if inactivity and chronic disease lead to disability,” said Carroll, who noted that all adults should get about two to three hours of moderate aerobic physical activity each week.
Officials advise those who wish to being exercising should start slowly and try to achieve sessions of at least 10 minutes of gentle activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling.