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Exercise & Fitness for Senior Citizens

Elderly Women Spend Two-Thirds of Time in Unhealthy Sedentary Behavior

Increasing age and body mass index just make matters worse

Dec. 17, 2013 - Health experts see sedentary behavior when the effort does not raise the energy required above your resting level as a risk factor for poor health. New research on thousands of senior women finds they spend about two-thirds of their waking hours in such dangerous behavior.

Most of these minimal activity periods lasted less than 30 minutes, says a report appearing in the December 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Eric J. Shiroma, M.Ed., M.S., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues examined details of sedentary behavior among 7,247 older women (average age, 71 years) who were asked to wear an accelerometer for 7 days during waking hours.

 

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Women wore the accelerometer for an average of 14.8 hours per day. The average percentage of wear time spent in sedentary behavior was 65.5 percent, equivalent to an average of 9.7 hours per day.

Total sedentary time increased and the number of periods of sedentary behavior and breaks per sedentary hour decreased as age and body mass index increased.

Most sedentary time occurred in periods of shorter duration. Among the total number of sedentary bouts, the average percentage of bouts of at least 30 minutes was 4.8 percent, representing 31.5 percent of total sedentary time.

If future studies confirm the health hazards of sedentary behavior and guidelines are warranted, these data may be useful to inform recommendations on how to improve such behavior, the authors conclude.

This study was supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health

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