Patients living with chronic conditions are missing out on the benefits of physical activity, researchers have warned.
A study of 96,000 UK men and women found those suffering from 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 the research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Chronic diseases are the emerging health burden of our time
The study was carried out by the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford.
“Chronic diseases are the emerging health burden of our time,” lead researcher Professor Terry Dwyer said.
“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.”
Participants aged 40 and over with chronic disease undertook 61 minutes per week less moderate activity, such as brisk walking and gardening, and three minutes less vigorous activity per week than their healthy peers, the researchers found.
People with mental health conditions had the lowest moderate activity levels.
They spent on average 2.5 hours per week less engaging in moderate exercise than people without mental health problems, who spent 11.8 hours on such activities, the study found.
Professor Dwyer said doctors 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.