(HealthDay News) — Half of the 21 million Americans who have a disability don’t exercise, and that lack of exercise is jeopardizing their health, according to a report published in the May 6 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Among these 11 million inactive adults are people who have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, have problems hearing or seeing, or have trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions, officials said.

Many of these disabled adults are able to exercise, but don’t do so regularly or at all, Ileana Arias, PhD, principal deputy director at the CDC, said during a news conference. “We are very concerned about this, because working-age adults with disabilities who get no aerobic physical activity are 50% more likely to have cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease than those who get the recommended amount of physical activity,” Arias said. “If doctors and health professionals recommend aerobic physical activity to adults with disabilities, then adults with disabilities are 82% more likely to be physically active,” she added.

Speaking at the news conference, Dianna Carroll, PhD, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, said, “We don’t know if disability leads to inactivity and chronic disease, or if inactivity and chronic disease lead to disability.” What’s clear, she said, is that exercise has the potential to prevent chronic disease, improve the health of someone with a chronic disease, and help reduce the risk of additional chronic diseases.

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