Written by Penny Min
Improved musculoskeletal health, or better mobility, may extend one’s working years and be linked to higher income, according to a recent longitudinal research.
A strong sense of physical mobility is essential for autonomous, healthy aging.
While the relationship between health and socioeconomic status is well established, the relationship between mobility and income is not well understood due to the lack of easily accessible income data.
However, the latest research on the association between income and mobility, which was published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, revealed that longer working years and higher income were highly correlated with greater mobility in individuals.
“We have long understood that greater mobility is an important indicator of good health.”-Lindsey A. Criswell, NIAMS Director
According to the results, sustained mobility was associated with higher wages over time, per the researchers at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a division of the National Institutes of Health.
Timothy Bhattacharyya, the study’s leader and head of the NIAMS Clinical and Investigative Orthopaedics Surgery Unit, claims that the idea that mobility might have financial benefits adds to the body of research supporting the advantages of physical activity and leading an active lifestyle.
Data from the largest representative longitudinal research of Americans over 50, the Health and Retirement research (HRS), which examines the effects of aging on job, health, social, psychological, familial, and economic status, was evaluated by Bhattacharyya and colleagues.
In 2016, Bhattacharyya and the team conducted a survey with over 19,000 HRS participants to examine the correlation between household income and mobility.
Based on their performance on a number of tests, including walking one block, walking several blocks, walking across a room, climbing many flights of stairs, and ascending one flight of stairs, participants were categorized into one of six mobility categories.
Level 0 denoted difficulties with all mobility tasks, whereas level 5 signified “unrestricted” mobility.
Greater Mobility and Its Link With Working Hours and Income
According to Bhattacharyya, participants saw an annual income fall of more than $3,000 for each level decline in mobility.
The researchers next assessed the relationship between income and preserving mobility. A second group of people with unlimited mobility was found, and by 2010, they had answered to the survey three times in total—once in 2000 and twice more.
Over the course of the decade, those who remained mobile earned $6,500 more than their less mobile peers and were also more likely to be working.
Lastly, utilizing a cohort of people who were between 60 and 80 years old in 2012, the researchers investigated the function of exercise in preserving mobility. Two and four years after the initial answer, the researchers reassessed the participants.
After turning 55, those who could still move around had a 19-point increased chance of continuing to be in an active job.
Eventually, mobility scores were dramatically increased by exercising simply once a week.
Bhattacharyya concludes: “I suspect that – like exercise – other approaches that benefit mobility may have a positive association with income. The next step is to study whether interventions that improve mobility are linked to improving income.”