The importance of exercise for people with chronic conditions has been emphasised in a new study.
University of Oxford researchers expressed concern following the trial which revealed people with chronic, or long-term conditions, are struggling to get as much exercise as is recommended.
Type 2 diabetes has often been thought of as a chronic, progressive disease, but eating a healthy real-food diet and getting regular exercise has been shown to help put type 2 diabetes into remission.
A team from the University of Oxford’s Institute for Global Health are recommending to clinicians that exercise is significant for people with chronic conditions with regards to improving their health. These conditions include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and mental health problems.
The duration and intensity of exercise among more than 96,000 people aged 64.5 years on average was examined. Some had chronic conditions, some did not.
Compared with people with chronic illnesses, the healthy individuals spent an hour per week or more doing moderate activity, such as brisk walking and gardening, and three minutes more doing vigorous activity like running.
Those with mental health condition were least likely to do exercise, with researchers recording the lowest moderate activity levels of all – spending 2.5 hours less per week exercising than the average 11.8 hours of the healthy group.
A significant factor that requires identifying and tackling by clinicians is knowing which issues can make exercise more difficult for people with long-term conditions.
It is well documented how even gentle exercise can improve health and boost well-being. And the research team insist that a focus on exercise could help people with long-term conditions experience health benefits.
In the UK, the NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week. The organisation also suggests strength exercises should be carried out at least twice a week.
“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,” said lead author Terry Dwyer, Professor of Epidemiology at The George Institute, University of Oxford.
“Our findings offer a clear window of opportunity in which we can act to tackle this burden of disease to help people the world over.”
The findings have been published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology.