One of the trends discussed in relation to staying healthy these days is how sitting for too long can affect our overall health and even decrease our life expectancy. In 2010 researchers identified a link between sitting for too long, such as at a desk job, and diseases of the cardiac system (heart), diabetes, and stroke. There is other research that has shown that people over 60 risk being unable to take care of themselves in terms of bathing, dressing and walking (activities of daily living) if they spend more time sitting. Adults over 60 are spending as much as two thirds of their time sitting, and as much as an hour spent sitting for a person over 60 increases a chance of losing their independence by 50%.
What can you do to decrease your chances of developing “sitting disease?” It’s really not that hard – get up and move!
- If you have been sitting for one hour that is too long
- When watching TV get up every time a commercial comes on. March in place; walk around (not into the kitchen for a snack!). Walk up and down the stairs
- If you are working on a computer, get up every hour and walk around
- When out shopping, don’t park close, park far away and get a few extra steps in
- If you are able use stairs whenever you can, not the elevator
- Pedometers (ped-om-meters) can be low cost ways of tracking how much you are moving each day
- A higher cost, and popular, alternative would be an fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit
Be sure to get your daily dose of exercise every day on top of all the suggestions above. The only known way to improve the quality of your life and avoiding becoming disabled and losing independence is to be physically active.
Hellmich, Nancy (February 19, 2014). Don’t just sit there! It could be harmful later in life. USA Today. Retrieved from: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/19/sitting-disease-disability-older-adults/5583941/
If you have questions call North Country Hospital Rehabilitation Services for more information at 802-334-3260.
Katesel Strimbeck PT, MS is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at North Country Hospital. Katesel has been a practicing PT for 21 years. She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).