A study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that over one-quarter of American adults ages 50 and up don’t include regular physical activity in their lifestyles. Janet Fulton, chief of the CDC’s Physical Activity and Health Branch and study co-author, expressed the importance of a physically active lifestyle and how it directly provides a healthier state of living.
In Brief: Physical Activity Prevents Illness
According to the CDC, the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some kinds of cancer, and dementia can be reduced by introducing moderate physical activity into the lifestyle. Among the elderly, exercise can also boost life span and reduce the risk of falls and broken bones.
The researchers analyzed results from a national survey about health in adults over 50, originally conducted in 2014. The investigators defined inactivity as moving only to perform daily life activities. They studied seniors based on their age group, location, weight, education level, ethnicity, and overall health condition.
The study revealed 31 million older Americans are inactive, and the older the adult, the less physically active they were. Of those 75 years and older, 35 percent were inactive. Of those ages 65 to 74, 27 percent were inactive, and 25 percent of those ages 50 to 64 were inactive.
Colorado had the most active older Americans–82 percent had some form of exercise. Southerners were the least likely to have moderate physical activity in their lifestyle—30 percent were inactive. Midwestern seniors were 28 percent inactive, 27 percent of seniors were inactive in the Northeast, and 23 percent in the West were inactive. Arkansas seniors were the least active—only 61 percent are getting regular physical activity.
According to the study, one-third of Hispanics and African-Americans were inactive, while 26 percent of Caucasians and 27 percent in other racial and ethnic groups were inactive. Those with higher educational backgrounds were more prone to exercise.
People with heavier weight were less likely to be active and those with health conditions, specifically chronic diseases (32 percent) were more inactive than those who were healthy (19 percent).
Since many older Americans are inactive, more work needs to be done in communities to provide better opportunities for seniors to be physically active. The benefits of activity to seniors are endless: from securing independence without risk, to improving mental health, to decreasing physical limitations that inconvenience daily functions.