Sitting is the new “smoking” gun. Latest evidence reveals sitting and lack of exercise is key to disability
– meaning the more hours you sit leads to a loss of functional ability and a host of other chronic diseases.
Each additional hour spent sitting will increase risks of becoming physically disabled, according to researchers at Northwestern University.
Their recent research focused on the ages of 60 plus. According to their study, disability is directly related to the hours of sit time.
In fact, those who spent the most time sitting were 46 percent more likely to become disabled when compared with people with similar health and exercise habits who sat less.
Another study suggests that exercise keeps people dodging disability.
The University of Florida’s research, published in May 2014, concluded that older people who get moderate physical exercise are 18 percent more likely to maintain functional mobility than those who do not exercise.
According to their study, daily moderate physical activity may mean the difference between older adults being able to keep up everyday activities or becoming housebound.
Sit time is also a considerable factor for developing chronic disease, says Kansas State University’s recent research. They say four or more hours of sitting can increase a person’s risk of developing chronic conditions.
In fact, a linear climb of risk increased with each accumulated hour of sitting. What’s surprising in their study’s conclusion – risk is regardless of lifestyle factors or a high body mass index. It’s directly related to the time spent sitting.
After looking at 27 years of mobility studies, the University of Alabama discovered factors that point to a loss of mobility.
At the end of their review in 2012, they came up with two questions that relate to that loss consisting of:
For health or physical reasons, do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walking one-quarter of a mile?
Because of underlying health or physical reasons, have you modified the way you climb 10 steps or walk a quarter of a mile?
If stairs and walking are difficult, rehabilitation and therapy may help. There are evidence-based ways to improve mobility.
UAB’s study points to physical and occupational therapy as key components for healthy aging and mobility. Therapy can assess mobility limitations and devise curative or function-enhancing interventions.
The good news is that immobility is so often preventable and treatable. Even small functional gains can improve independence.
“Therapy can improve balance, function and strength,” says TJ Sylvain, administrator for Orchard Park Health & Rehabilitation Center.
He believes that physical and occupational therapy can offset functional deficits and environmental barriers with exercise and mobility devices.
“Occupational therapy can improve daily living activities, such as walking to the kitchen, getting out of a chair, or picking up groceries,” says Sylvain
“It’s never too late to gain function, mobility and balance,” says Sylvain. “Therapy leads to improved quality of life for people with mobility limitations.”