Time spent sedentary linked to increased risk of disability

Sedentary behavior could directly result in disability for individuals aged 60 years or older, regardless of moderate to vigorous physical activity, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

The National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys studied 2,286 participants, in similar health with the same amount of physical activity, over 3 years.

The individuals, equipped with a device that measured activity, recorded about 9 hours per day in sedentary behavior, and 3.6% reported disability with daily activities. Chances of disability increased by 46% for each additional hour spent sedentary.

This study is the first to show sedentary behavior as its own risk factor, and suggested that it is as strong a risk for disability as lack of moderate exercise.

“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, stated in a press release.

Occasionally walking around the house or office, walking short distances instead of driving and taking the stairs instead of the elevator could reduce the risk of disability related to sedentary behavior, according to Dunlop.

“It’s great reinforcement to keep moving,” she said.

For more information:

Dunlop D. J Phys Act Health. 2014: doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2013-0311.

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