As a certified physical therapist, my staff and I understand the importance of staying active as we age, so our health aides encourage our clients to increase their activity during the day. This becomes all the more important when you realize that adults 60 and over, spend an average of two-thirds of their waking time being sedentary — roughly nine hours a day.
Now a new study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health of more than 2,200 people, as reported by USA Today, found that every additional hour adults over age 60 spend sitting increases by 50% their risk of being disabled for activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and walking.
The study suggests that health problems associated with sitting disease are mounting. Research has linked too much sitting to increased risk of heart failure, type 2 diabetes and death from cancer, heart disease and stroke. It may affect mood and creativity. One study showed that if most people spent fewer than three hours a day sitting, it would add two years to the average life expectancy in this country.
USA Today notes that the study participants wore accelerometers (motion sensors) during their waking hours for one week during the three-year survey period. This measured the time they spent being sedentary, doing light physical activity such as pushing a grocery cart, doing moderately vigorous physical activity such as brisk walking, or vigorous physical activity such as running.
Among the findings out Tuesday in the • 6.2% of participants met the government’s physical activity guidelines, which advise adults to get at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types.
We encourage caregivers to help their elder family members increase their level of activity and we can create an exercise regimen to accomplish this. Our home aides also can assist in motivating seniors to stay more active.