PUBLISHED: 1:19 PM on Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Ron's Apothecary: Remaining Active with Arthritis
Researchers at Northwestern University studied a group of 5,715 adults aged 65 or older with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis to rate their ability to perform activities of daily living. Significant predictors of loss of function included sex and ethnicity (more frequent in women, Hispanics, and African Americans), older age, cognitive impairment, depressive symptoms, diabetes, physical limitations, stroke, and vision impairment. Lack of regular vigorous physical activity almost doubled the risk of functional decline and lifestyle limitations, and in some cases also substantially increased health care costs. Becoming physically active, regardless of one's initial level of fitness, improves function by increasing strength, aerobic capacity, and flexibility. Yet, 60% of Americans with arthritis do not meet the surgeon general's recommendations for physical activity.