Anti-Aging Tip Sheet: Beware the Chair
Sitting – and generally leading a sedentary lifestyle, may raise your risks of developing chronic diseases, as well as potentially shorten your lifespan. Michael Jensen, from the Mayo Clinic (Minnesota, USA), and colleagues submit that too much sitting may be as bad for a person’s health as smoking. The researchers designed a program of exercise counseling and accelerometer feedback, to ascertain the activity levels in older people. The study enrolled 49 men and women, ages 65-95 years, who were ambulatory but sedentary and overweight, for a randomized controlled crossover trial lasting one year. The resulting data revealed that “an increase in activity level was associated with a decline in % body fat,” leading the investigators to urge that: “Increasing activity levels benefits older patients.” [Thompson WG, Kuhle CL, Koepp GA, McCrady-Spitzer SK, Levine JA. “’Go4Life’ exercise counseling, accelerometer feedback, and activity levels in older people.” Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014 May-Jun;58(3):314-9.]
Why is prolonged sitting bad for your health? Richard R. Rosenkranz, from Kansas State University (Kansas, USA), and colleagues studied data collected on 194,545 men and women, ages 45 to 106, who were enrolled in Australia’s 45 and Up Study. Positing that prolonged sitting reduces muscle contractions and shuts off the activity of lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which helps to process fat into energy, these study authors write that their data adds to the evidence to support efforts “to increase [physical activity] and decrease sitting time toward the achievement of better population health and the pursuit of successful aging. “ Among postmenopausal women, Rebecca Seguin, from Cornell University (New York, USA), and colleagues found that those with the highest amounts of sedentary time – defined as sitting and resting, excluding sleeping – died earlier than their most active peers. Further, the researchers found that women with more than 11 hours of daily sedentary time faced a 12% increase in all- cause premature mortality, as compared with the most energetic group – those with four hours or less of inactivity. The sedentary group also upped their odds for death due to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and cancer by 13, 27 and 21%, respectively. Importantly, the team also observed that excess sedentary time tends to make it harder to regain physical strength and function. These study authors warn that: “There [is] a linear relationship between greater amounts of sedentary time and mortality risk.” Among men, sitting for long periods increases heart failure risk in men – even for those who exercise regularly. Deborah Rohm Young, from Kaiser Permanante (California, USA), and colleagues followed a racially diverse group of 84,170 men, ages 45 to 69 years, without heart failure. Exercise levels were calculated in METs (metabolic equivalent of task), a measure of the body’s energy use. Sedentary levels were measured in hours. After an average of nearly eight years of follow-up, researchers found that those men with low levels of physical activity were 52% more likely to develop heart failure than men with high physical activity levels, even after adjusting for differences in sedentary time. Further, outside of work, men who spent five or more hours a day sitting were 34% more likely to develop heart failure than men who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised. The team also reveraled that heart failure risk more than doubled in men who sat for at least five hours a day and got little exercise, as compared to men who were very physically active and sat for two hours or less a day. These authors urge that: “Both physical activity and sedentary time may be appropriate intervention targets for preventing [heart failure].”
[Richard R Rosenkranz, Mitch J Duncan, Sara K Rosenkranz, Gregory S Kolt. “Active lifestyles related to excellent self-rated health and quality of life: cross sectional findings from 194,545 participants in The 45 and Up Study.” BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1071, 13 November 2013. Rebecca Seguin, David M. Buchner, Jingmin Liu, Matthew Allison, et al. “Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in Older Women: The Women’s Health Initiative.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine Vol. 46, Issue 2, Pages 122-135, February 2014. Deborah Rohm Young, Kristi Reynolds, Margo Sidell, Somjot Brar, Nirupa R. Ghai, Barbara Sternfeld, et al. “Effects of Physical Activity and Sedentary Time on the Risk of Heart Failure.” Circulation: Heart Failure, Jan. 2014.]
Too much sedentary time is linked to major disability after age 60. Dorothy Dunlop, from Northwestern University (Illinois, USA), and colleagues analyzed data collected from 2,286 adults, ages 60 years and older, enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It compared people in similar health with the same amount of moderate vigorous activity, with the participants wearing accelerometers from 2002 to 2005 to measure their sedentary time and moderate vigorous physical activity. The data revealed that being sedentary was almost as strong a risk factor for disability as lack of moderate vigorous activity – that is, that sedentary behavior is correlated to increased disability regardless of the amount of moderate exercise.” Submitting that: “data show a strong relationship between greater time spent in sedentary behavior and the presence of [activities of daily living] disability, independent of time spent in moderate or vigorous activity,” the study authors urge for “programs encouraging older adults to decrease sedentary behavior regardless of their engagement in moderate or vigorous activity.” [Dorothy Dunlop. “Sedentary Time in U.S. Older Adults Associated With Disability in Activities of Daily Living Independent of Physical Activity.” Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 19 Feb. 2014.]
From Australia to Great Britain, research teams confirm that the more a person sits, the greater the risk of chronic diseases. A study by University of Western Sydney (Australia) assessed data on 63,048 men, ages 45 to 65 years, enrolled in the subjects enrolled in Australia’s 45 and Up Study revealed that those who sat for more than four hours per day, as compared with those who reported sitting four hours or less per day, were significantly more likely to report having a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Moreover, the reporting of chronic diseases rose as participants indicated they sat more. With those sitting for at least six hours were significantly more likely to report having diabetes. The study authors conclude that: “Our findings suggest that higher volumes of sitting time are significantly associated with … overall chronic disease, independent of physical activity.” With evidence mounting that suggests that the more a person sits, the greater his/her risk of chronic diseases, two studies reaffirm the merits of moving about. Emma S George, University of Western Sydney (Australia), and colleagues, reported on their analysis of data from subjects enrolled in Australia’s 45 and Up Study, involving more than 267,000 people and for which a subset of 63,048 men, ages 45 t0 65 years, was selected. The team found that, compared with those who reported sitting four hours or less per day, those who sat for more than four hours per day were significantly more likely to report having a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. The reporting of chronic diseases rose as participants indicated they sat more. Those sitting for at least six hours were significantly more likely to report having diabetes. The study authors conclude that: “Our findings suggest that higher volumes of sitting time are significantly associated with diabetes and overall chronic disease,independent of physical activity.” Separate findings from Joseph Henson, from the University of Leicester (United Kingdom), and colleagues report that simply rising from the chair and moving a little may help ward off type 2 diabetes among individuals at risk even more than engaging in strenuous physical activity. The team found that time spent sedentary significantly correlated to negative metabolic factors including 2-hour glucose level, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides, writing that: “In adults at high risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, time spent sedentary is strongly and adversely associated with cardiometabolic health and may be a more important indicator of poor health than [moderate-to-vigorous physical activity].” [Emma S George, Richard R Rosenkranz., Gregory S Kolt. “Chronic disease and sitting time in middle-aged Australian males: findings from the 45 and Up Study.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2013, 10:20. Henson J, Yates T, Biddle SJ, Edwardson CL, Khunti K, Wilmot EG, Gray LJ, Gorely T, Nimmo MA, Davies MJ. “Associations of objectively measured sedentary behaviour and physical activity with markers of cardiometabolic health.” Diabetologia. 2013 Mar 1.]
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