If you’re over 60, sitting = trouble, even if you exercise

If you’re over the age of 60, every extra hour you spend sitting is linked to doubling your risk of being disabled, no matter how much exercise you get, according to a study published this week in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

According to the study, conducted by Northwestern Medicine, of two theoretical 65-year-old women, if one is sedentary for 12 hours a day and the other is sedentary for 13 hours a day, the second one is 50 percent more likely to be disabled.

Important to note: Being intentionally active by exercising doesn’t appear offset the health risk of being sedentary the rest of the day. (To read the journal abstract or access the study, click here.) So even if you go to the gym or take an after-dinner walk every night, what you do the rest of the day counts!

The takeaway? Move …. every chance you get. Park farther away from the grocery store when you go shopping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you’re watching TV and get up to do something, take an extra lap around your home. Stand whenever you can: during meetings, when crafting, if working at a desk (my home computer is set up so that I have to stand when I use it; in fact, I’m standing right now).

Set a timer on your phone or kitchen oven to go off every so often to remind yourself to get up and *do* something.

Sometimes procrastination can be a good thing: Plan your household and outdoor chores so that they are scattered throughout the day.

And rather than take one long walk a day (say, after dinner), break it into a couple shorter walks.

The study was part of the 2003-2005 National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys and included more than 2,200 people aged 60 and up whose physical activity was monitored with an accelerometer (found in popular fitness devices like the FitBit). The study evaluated the association between disabilities in performing activities of daily living (ADL) and the daily percentage of sedentary time. As a group, they spent almost 9 hours/day being sedentary during waking hours and reported 3.6 percent ADL disability. The odds of ADL disability were 46 percent greater for each hour spent in sedentary behavior, adjusted for several factors.

Wendy Watkins

About Wendy Watkins

Wendy Watkins is a Bangor-based personal trainer, fitness coach, studio owner, and writer/editor. She is the author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Losing 20 Pounds in 2 Months. Visit her website at thrivebangor.com.