Beware of your chair: How sedentary behavior is risky behavior

Beware of the chair or sofa you are sitting on. We all know lack of physical activity can slow us down — but just how risky is it to spend hours a day in seated position? You may want to stand up to hear this!

Dorothy Dunlop, PhD, Northwestern Medicine Health Services Researcher: “It really is a smoking gun, and it’s one more piece of evidence — on top of a fairly large pile — that sedentary behavior, sitting is detrimental to health.”

Northwestern Medicine researcher Dorothy Dunlop is talking about her just-published study. She and her team analyzed a sampling of national data. They looked at physical activity in more than 2,000 people ages 60 or older, and this is what they learned: If you compare two people – each does the same amount of exercise. One sits 12 hours a day, the other 13. The person who sits one extra hour a day …

Dr. Dunlop: “That person’s risk of being in the disabled pool was 50% greater than a person who sat one hour less.”

In other words, your chance of being disabled increases with each hour of sedentary behavior. Moderate intensity exercise can help reduce your risk, but it won’t offset the damage that comes with sitting for long stretches.

Dr. Dunlop: “Being sedentary, sitting for a large portion of the day, is a separate risk factor for being in a group of disabled people.”

In Dunlop’s study, disability was defined as limitations with basic activities like feeding yourself, dressing, bathing and walking short distances.

Dr. Dunlop: “Sitting does several things, number one it slows your blood circulation and secondly your muscles are not burning fat. If you have idle muscles and slow circulation and you do this for day after day month after month that is going to increase your risk of being obese, heart disease and diabetes.”

If you’d like to read Dr. Dunlop’s study, go to:

http://journals.humankinetics.com/jpah-in-press/jpah-in-press/sedentary-time-in-us-older-adults-associated-with-disability-in-activities-of-daily-living-independent-of-physical-activity

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