Northwestern University Logo Winter may bring smile to some faces, but not to forget, the altering temperatures could make us more vulnerable to illnesses. One such instance is seemingly true for old arthritis sufferers as scientists from the Northwestern University have found that many of them tend to stay inactive and give physical exertion a miss during cold winters in Chicago.

Experts believe that a daily dose of physical activity is essential for arthritis patients. The revelations also put forward that recreational facilities which can be enjoyed at home are apparently fewer in urban areas struck by chilly weather.

“We found that there’s a huge difference in trying to get these patients to be active in the winter and trying to get them to be active in the summer,” remarked Joe Feinglass, a research professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

For the analysis, the team examined the weather conditions of Chicago and the proportion of daylight spanning from sunrise to sunset on a daily basis for 3 years. Nearly 250 subjects were inspected in the process where their physical activities were gauged using an accelerometer.

The subjects almost above 60 years of age were diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. They were told to sport the accelerometer as they woke up in the morning 6 times per week. About 3 to 6 months interval was allotted during different months.

Days when the average temperature dropped below 20 degrees or hot days when the temperature elevated above 75 degrees, participants supposedly stayed indoors and inactive for an extra hour each day. Strikingly, it was the number of daylight hours which was the deciding factor for daily activities.

Especially in the month of November, there was almost 3 months difference in the amount of sedentary activities experienced by people, as compared to the summer months. According to the federal guidelines, adults with arthritis are supposed to engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, low-impact activity every week.

This relates to a median time of slightly above 20 minutes each day. This does not mean hardcore gym exercises, just a brisk walk may help. Unfortunately, it is not something most people desire during cold months. In such a scenario, TV or taped exercise programs to exert the bodies at home ought to help.

The scientists concluded that more public access opportunities for senior citizens to be physically active while staying indoors during winter, are required. The paper titled, ‘The Effects of Daily Weather on Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity’ was published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.