At the Avenue Clinic, we keep saying that sitting is bad for your back – whatever chair you might use and however good it might be! Now a new study done at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in USA says that research shows if you are 60 or over, every additional hour a day you spend sitting per day is linked to a 50 percent greater risk of being disabled generally – regardless of how much moderate exercise you get, reports a new study.
They say that if there are two 65-year-old women, one sedentary for 12 hours a day and another sedentary for 13 hours a day, the second one is 50 percent more likely to be disabled.
The study is the first to show sedentary behavior is its own risk factor for disability. “This is the first time we’ve shown sedentary behavior was related to increased disability regardless of the amount of moderate exercise,” said Dorothy Dunlop, PhD, professor of Medicine at and lead author of the study. “Being sedentary is not just a synonym for inadequate physical activity.”
Disability affects more than 56 million Americans. Definition is defined by limitations in being able to do basic activities such as eating, dressing or bathing oneself, getting in and out of bed and walking across a room. Disability increases the risk of hospitalization and institutionalization and is a leading source of healthcare costs, accounting for $1 in every $4 spent.
Professor Dunlop goes on to say “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”.
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. Moderate activity is walking briskly, as if you are late to an appointment.
The participants wore accelerometers from 2002 to 2005 to measure their sedentary time and moderate vigorous physical activity. The accelerometer monitoring is significant because it is objective. The older and heavier people are, the more they tend to overestimate their physical activity. Previous research indicated a relationship between sedentary behavior and disability but it was based on self-reports and, thus, couldn’t be verified.
The study doesn’t definitively determine sedentary behavior causes disability however, it does bring to our attention that this is a potential problem that we thought we’d share with you.
Previous studies with animals have shown immobility is a separate risk factor for negative effects on health but this is the first time that objective evidence has been produced that shows similar effects in humans.
To cut down on sitting time we suggest that you do the following:
- 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 lift as often as you can.