Report aims to dispel myths around disabled people and physical exercise

Myths about physical activity being harmful for disabled people should be dispelled, according to a report.

Disabled adults are twice as likely to be inactive than non-disabled adults, with potentially around 3.5 million disabled adults at greater risk of poor health due to inactivity, Public Health England said.

The review – called Physical activity for general health benefits in disabled adults – said there is no good evidence base that suggests appropriate physical activity is a risk for disabled adults.

In contrast, it found that the risks of poor health as a result of inactivity are high.

A new infographic from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has been created to make physical activity recommendations more accessible and to support disabled people in getting more active.

In its summary, the review said: “Aligned with the 2011 UK CMO’s physical activity guidelines, based on this review of evidence it is recommended that some physical activity is better than nothing, but for substantial health gains disabled adults should engage in 150 minutes of physical activity at a moderate to vigorous intensity per week.

“They should also do challenging strength and balance exercises on at least two days per week.

“With respect to safety, no evidence exists that suggests appropriate physical activity is a risk for disabled adults.

“It would seem therefore that for disabled adults there are analogous health benefits of engaging in physical activity as for the rest of the adult population.

“Any myths about physical activity being inherently harmful for disabled people should also be dispelled.

“The main strengths of this report is that they have focused on physical activity in a population not represented in previous UK guidelines, that is, disabled adults.

“They were also co-produced with disabled adults and organisations. That is another first.”

CMO for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies (pictured), said: “Being active is good for our health – both physical and mental.

“It is important that disabled people in the UK do not miss out on the benefits that being active can bring.

“I hope that the new infographic, designed by disabled people for disabled people, will help more people reap the benefits of physical activity in a safe and healthy way.”

Duncan Selbie, PHE chief executive, said: “Moving more is important for everyone and we must better support people who face barriers to being active.

“We can all find something that suits our needs and abilities, from walking, to playing ball games, or joining a gym.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.