-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors who don't
exercise much, who smoke or who eat few fruits and vegetables are
at increased risk for disability, according to a new study.
And the more unhealthy lifestyle habits they have, the more
likely they are to develop problems that prevent them from being
able to do the daily tasks required to live independently.
The study included nearly 4,000 people over age 65 in Dijon,
France. They were interviewed about their lifestyle behaviors --
such as smoking, diet, physical activity and alcohol consumption --
and then followed for 12 years.
During the follow-up, 31 percent of the participants developed
disabilities. They were older, more likely to be women and less
educated, and had a worse health profile than those who did not
People who had low or medium levels of physical activity had a
72 percent increased risk of disability, independent of other
unhealthy habits. The increased risk was 26 percent for current
smokers and those who recently quit, and 24 percent for those who
ate fruits and vegetables less than once a day. People with all
three unhealthy behaviors were twice as likely to develop
There was no association between alcohol consumption and
disability risk, according to the study, which was published online
July 23 in the journal
To determine levels of disability, researchers looked at how
well participants could use a telephone, manage their money and
medications, walk, climb stairs, do housework, shop, use private or
public transportation, and perform personal care functions such as
bathing and dressing.
About 30 percent of the association between unhealthy behaviors
and disability was explained by factors such as higher body-mass
index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight), mental
decline, depression, chronic disease and cardiovascular disease,
according to a journal news release.
Study author Alexis Elbaz, of France's National Institute of
Health and Medical Research, and colleagues said their findings
show that "an unhealthy lifestyle -- characterized by physical
inactivity, unhealthy diet and smoking -- is associated with a
greater hazard of disability." But, they said, people can change
The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines
good health habits for people 60 and older.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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