A sedentary life obscures the benefits of regular physical activity

picture of a man watching television and eating chips, as example of sedentary behavior

Sedentary lifestyle is associated with several negative health consequences, including disability and premature death.

Physical activity is related to several health benefits, even in older adults, but in this population most of the time is spent sitting. An important American study of people aged 60 and over showed that disability is related to the time spent daily in a sedentary way. In particular, the probability of disability in the activities of daily living, such as washing and dressing, increases for each hour daily passed seated.

Even in people who are following the current recommendations to perform moderate or vigorous physical activity, the presence of disability is associated with the hours spent sitting daily. This means that even if you do intense physical activity, but you spend most of the day according to a sedentary lifestyle, the risk of developing disability is not reduced. In older adults with chronic illnesses, with chronic pain or who already have disabilities, the goal should not be to perform vigorous physical activity, but to reduce sedentary behavior, i.e.  stay at the telephone, watch television, listen to the radio and read. Replacing even just 30 minutes a day of sedentary activity with light physical activity is associated with better physical health, which means that small changes in one's sedentary lifestyle habits can lead to improvements in health.

LINK TO THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE :   Dunlop D.D., Song J., Arnston E.K., et al. “Sedentary time in US older adults associated with disability in activities of daily living independent of physical activity”.  J Phys Act Health, 2015;12(1):93-101.