Sedentary lifestyle causes body to deteriorate faster
People in their fifties with a sedentary lifestyle degenerate physically faster than their more active peers, discovered epidemiologists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Regular exercise reduces the negative effect of a sedentary lifestyle, but doesn't cancel it out completely.
Exercise = good, sitting = bad
Until recently anti-aging researchers thought that people stay fitter and more healthy if they take regular physical exercise – at least half an hour a day of moderately intense exercise. More is better.
Researchers still think this is the case. They have been studying an extra factor in the last few years: the number of the hours a day that you spend sitting.
The longer you do this the more likely you are to die, according to studies. No matter how good half an hour daily of intensive exercise is for you, sitting for hours on end is still bad for you. Not moving for hours on end is not good for our bodies. Even if you take intensive exercise regularly.
In 2012 researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published the results of an epidemiological study, which show that a sedentary lifestyle speeds up the rate at which over-fifties degenerate physically. The researchers monitored sixty thousand women who were taking part in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. In the period 1993-1998, when the study began, the women were aged from 50-79.
The researchers recorded the amount of physical exercise the women had each day, and the number of hours a day they spent seated or lying. The expressed the amount of physical exercise in MET hours per week. One hour of walking at a reasonable speed is equivalent to 3 MET hours. The norm that is required according to sports scientists is 15-20 MET hours a week.
Three years after the start of the study [Y3] [in the period 1996-2001] the researchers assessed the women's physical fitness. They did this again in 2005 [ES1], 2006 [ES2], 2007 [ES3], 2008 [ES4] and 2009 [ES5]. The researchers scored the women on a scale of – to 100. The higher the score, the better the women's physical condition.
The less the women exercised, the greater the negative effect of a sedentary lifestyle. In the figures below Q1 represents the women who sat for less than six hours a day, Q2 represents the women who sat 6-8 hours a day, Q3 the women who sat for 8-11 hours a day and Q4 for women who spent more than 11 hours each day sitting.
"Expanding public health messages to reduce sedentary time and increase activity levels are likely to impart the broadest health benefits", the researchers conclude.
"Targeted messages to reduce time spent engaged in sedentary activities may have potential for impact when paired with current physical activity recommendations for older adults."
J Aging Res. 2012;2012:271589.
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