Lifestyles of people with chronic conditions means they miss benefits of exercise

Health professionals should discuss activity levels with anyone who has long-term ill health

Health professionals should discuss activity levels with anyone who has long-term ill health

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Patients with chronic conditions are missing out on the benefits of physical activity, researchers found.

A study of 96,000 UK adults found those with illnesses including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and mental health conditions are considerably less active than their healthy peers.

Even people with chronic gastrointestinal or skin problems, which would not be expected to limit activity, did not do as much exercise on average, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Broach the subject

The research team, from the University of Oxford, said healthcare professionals should ask patients with chronic conditions about their physical activity levels.

'Chronic diseases are the emerging health burden of our time,' said lead researcher Terry Dwyer of the university's George Institute for Global Health.

'We know that increasing physical activity is important for the management of chronic diseases and preventing the development of new chronic diseases in an individual, so our findings give cause for concern.'

Professor Dwyer's team found participants aged 40 and over with chronic disease spent 61 minutes less per week on moderate activity, such as brisk walking and gardening, and three minutes less on vigorous activity per week than their healthy peers.

Exercise and mental health

People with mental health conditions had the lowest moderate activity levels. On average, they spent 2.5 hours less on moderate exercise per week than people without mental health problems, who spent 11.8 hours on such activities, the study found.

Professor Dwyer said healthcare professionals treating patients for any disease should ask them about their physical activity.

'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,' he said.

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