CHICAGO - A study by Northwestern Medicine found for each additional hour someone 60 years or older sat they doubled their risk of being disabled, regardless of how much moderate exercise they did.
The study is the first to show sedentary behavior as its own risk factor for disability. Researchers found that sedentary behavior is almost as strong of a risk factor for disability as lack of moderate exercise.
“It means older adults need to reduce the amount of time they spend sitting, whether in front of the TV or at the computer, regardless of their participation in moderate or vigorous activity,” Dorothy Dunlop, PhD, professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study.
To cut down on sitting time, Dunlop has the following suggestions:
- Stand up when you talk on the phone or during a work meeting.
- When you go to the grocery store or mall, park in a space farthest away.
- When you get up to have glass of water, walk around the house or office.
- Walk for short errands instead of taking the car.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator if you are able.
The study focused on a sample of 2,286 adults aged 60 and older from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It compared people in similar health with the same amount of moderate vigorous activity. The study defined moderate activity as someone who was walking briskly, as if you are late to an appointment.
Researchers say that the study does not determine that sedentary behavior causes disability, just that can cause potential problems.