Are boomers wearing out sooner?

My colleague Tom Avril reports on a study that found that an increasing number of middle-aged Americans say the have physical ailments that limit their mobility. The study analyzed survey data found that in 2007 larger numbers of people aged 50 years to 64 years reported problems walking a quarter mile or standing for two hours compared with the same age group in 1997.

Here is my colleague’s report from Monday’s Health & Science section:

More Americans aged 50 to 64 are reporting that they have trouble getting around — and a small but increasing number say they need help doing so.

The increase in mobility problems took place between 1997 and 2007, and occurred with activities such as stooping, standing for two hours and walking a quarter mile. For example, the percentage of people who could not climb ten steps without resting rose from 15 percent to 17 percent in ten years.

The results came from a survey analysis by the RAND Corp. and the University of Michigan, published in this month’s Health Affairs.

The most common causes cited for disabilities in this age group were back and neck problems, arthritis and rheumatism. The analysis also found increases in disability attributed to depression, diabetes and conditions of the nervous system. Obesity was not found to play a large role in the disability increase, though researchers said this condition may have been underreported.