Increasing daily activity time may reduce the risk of disability, shows a recent study.
The four-year cohort study included 1680 community-dwelling adults aged 49 years or older with knee osteoarthritis, or risk factors for knee osteoarthritis. All participants were free of disability at baseline, defined as ‘difficulty or dependency in carrying out activities essential to independent living, including essential roles, tasks needed for self-care and living independently in a home, and desired activities important to one’s quality of life’.
The primary outcome was the development of disability at the two-year follow-up visit. Secondary outcomes included disability progression, based on a change from the baseline disability level to a more severe level two years later. Physical activity was measured using an accelerometer.
Greater time spent in light intensity activities had a significant inverse association with incident disability. Compared to those who spent the least time performing light activity, those who spent the most time were 46% less likely to develop disability that hindered the ability to carry out activities of daily living. Disability progression was significantly related to increasing quartile categories of daily time spent in light intensity physical activities. Those who spent the most time performing light activity were 50% less likely to move from baseline to a more severe level of disability two years later, compared to those who spent the least time on activity, and this finding was independent of time spent in moderate-vigorous activity.
The researchers note that ‘greater light activity time, independent of time spent in moderate-vigorous intensity activity, was significantly related to reduced risk and progression of disability’ and that ‘greater daily physical activity time may reduce the risk of disability, even if the intensity of that additional activity is not increased’.