A research study by the National Institute of Health has shown that better mobility (ability to move easily) is strongly associated with higher income and longer working years in adults.
The researchers at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases which is a part of the National Institute of Health also noted that maintaining mobility (movability) was linked to greater income earnings over time.
Greater mobility is an indicator of good health. The fact that mobility can have economic rewards further extends the evidence for the benefits of regular exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle.
The study was led by the head of the NIAMS Clinical and Investigative Orthopaedics Surgery Unit, Dr. Timothy Bhattacharyya.
Bhattacharyya and his colleagues analyzed data from the federally supported Health and Retirement Study (HERS), the largest representative study of adults over 59 years, which explores the challenges associated with ageing on work, health, family, social, psychological, and economic status.
The association between household income and mobility in more than 19,000 HERS participants who first responded to the survey was first measured.
Participants were assigned to one of six mobility levels based on their ability to complete a series of tasks- walking several blocks, walking one block, walking across a room, climbing several flights of stairs, and climbing one flight of stairs.
The six mobility levels were grouped from Level 0 to Level 5.
Level 5 represented unrestricted mobility while level 0 represented difficulty with all mobility tasks.
The graph represents the relationship between mobility category and income in cross-sectional groups. Category 5 represents unrestricted mobility while category 0 represents difficulty in mobility in all tasks.
Credit: Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 2023
The association between maintaining mobility and income was evaluated.
A second group of participants with unrestricted mobility who had responded to the survey three times were identified.
Those who maintained their mobility over the decade through regular exercise and maintaining active lifestyles had incomes that were $6500 higher than their less mobile participants and were more likely to keep getting employed.
Finally, researchers explored the role exercise played in maintaining mobility in a cohort of older participants.
Follow-up assessments were conducted two and four years after their initial response to the survey.
Those who maintained their mobility after 55 years have a 19-point higher chance of maintaining an active working status.
Engaging in exercise just once a week significantly boosted mobility levels over time.
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