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.
Methods: 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.