The average person over 60 sits for 9 waking hours per day: image via famefoundry.comA new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine indicates that sitting too much not only leads to heart disease, but is a risk for disability among men and women over 60, regardless of how much exercise they get at other times.
The study, led by Professor of Medicine Dorothy Dunlop, measured the abilities of more than 2,000 men and women over the age of 60 to perform daily activities. Taking into consideration the exercise habits of these individuals, sitting was the activity most linked with disability - defined as "having much difficulty, or inability, to perform activities of daily living such as getting out of bed, dressing, and walking."
Data for the study was obtained from the U.S. National Health and Nutrution Examination Survey from 2002 to 2005, whose participants wore accelerometers for at least 4 days during the study period to measure their activity. Only about 6 percent of the responders reported that they were moderately active for at least 2.5 hours a week. The average number of hours they spent sitting was 9 hours per day during waking hours.
Although only 4 percent of the responders identified themselves as disabled, the odds of disability went up 50 percent for every hour beyond nine that the responders spent sitting. So those who sit for 10 hours a day have a 50 percent greater chance of being disabled as a person who sits 9 hours a day.
Further study is needed to cooborate the researchers' theory that sitting is itself a health risk, because sitting can also be the result of being disabled. But there seems also to be considerable other evidence that sitting burns calories very slowly and restricts blood flow to our muscles.
More exercise, especially walking, standing instead of sitting whenever you can, getting up periodically and moving around are all ways in which you can reduce your vulnerability to disability. Instead of being the potato on the couch, be one on your treadmill; put it in front of the TV!