Findings of a recent study suggest that those with chronic conditions spend considerably less time on physical activity than their healthy peers.
According to the research, 15 million people in England suffer from chronic diseases, including major types include cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and stroke; respiratory daises, for instance asthma; and mental health conditions (eg depression). Chronic conditions are not passed from person to person but usually develop slowly, and are often characterised by the need for long-term management.
The study found that healthy participants spent over an hour more on moderate activity (eg brisk walking and gardening), and three minutes (11%) more on vigorous activity (eg running and aerobics) a week than those with chronic disease.
Researchers found that those with mental health disorders had the lowest moderate activity levels of all, spending 2.5 hours less per week than the average 11.8 hours of healthy peers.
Chronic diseases are the emerging health burden of our time. We know that increasing physical activity is important both for the management of chronic diseases and also for preventing the development of new chronic diseases in an individual, so our findings give cause for concern, said Terry Dwyer, lead author of the study.
Some conditions, such as respiratory or mental health disorders, can limit peoples' capacity for exercise, for instance, owing to a reduced supply of oxygen or by lessening their motivation to engage in everyday activities.
The study was published in the Journal of International Journal of Epidemiology.
However, not all chronic diseases necessarily affect the capacity to be active. Some ill participants may have been habitually inactive, but the sick role may also have a part to play in this activity gap, whereby the very fact of being ill influences an individuals' tendency to exercise.
"The findings are particularly relevant to clinicians as they highlight the fact that doctors treating patients for any disease should be asking about how much physical activity they are taking. The disease they are suffering from might not be one that will kill them, but a reduction in physical activity consequent on having a disease will put them at risk of other serious chronic conditions such as diabetes, and certain cancers," Dwyer explained.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults are moderately active for at least 150 minutes per week to maintain a healthy lifestyle and help stem the onset of progressive, and potentially multiple, chronic disease diagnoses. (ANI)