The effect of walking on lower body disability among older Blacks and Whites

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Objectives. This study investigated the association between regular physical activity and risk of or increase in lower body disability in older, community-dwelling Blacks and Whites. Method. The present study used the 1984 to 1990 Longitudinal Study on Aging, which included 413 Black and 3428 White self-respondents 70 years of age or older. Discrete-time hazard models provided estimates of the effects of self-reported walking frequency and regular exercise on lower body disability among Black and White self- respondents. Results. Whites who reported walking 4 to 7 days per week at baseline vs those who reported never walking 1 mile (1.6 km) or more experienced a one-third lower risk of increased disability. Blacks who reported walking 4 to 7 days per week experienced a two-thirds lower risk. Walking 4 to 7 days per week reduced the risk of disability onset by 50% to 80% on all five disability items within the Black sample and by 50% on two items within the White sample. Conclusions. Among older Blacks, walking 4 to 7 days per week had a greater protective effect against lower body decline than any of the other factors, including age and chronic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-61
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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