Age actively to fight frailty

 

From a health perspective, sitting comfortably isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially as we age. Many of us may view our later years as a time for us to put our feet up, have lots of cups of tea and spend most of our time sitting having a chat. Well, a new study has evidence that when it comes to women, this type of lifestyle – especially long periods of uninterrupted sitting – increases frailty risk.

A sedentary lifestyle is well known to have adverse health effects, but a new study focussed on its effects on middle-aged women and their ability to recover after illness or injury. It found rather than helping, it may hurt recovery.

We know prolonged sitting harms our vascular health, while researchers into how sedentary behaviour influences brain health, especially regions of the brain that are critical to memory formation, have found that it is a significant predictor of thinning of the MTL, which can be a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults.

What’s more alarming, regular exercise or bursts of physical activity, even at high levels, is insufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods.

Smarter ageing means moving not sitting

With age, sitting becomes even more dangerous, as increased sedentarism heightens the risk of walking disability as well as dementia among seniors, but this new study by researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) analysed data from our friends at the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health to look at the impact of prolonged sitting on over 5,000 middle-aged women over a 12year period. The findings published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The study found women who had high levels of sitting (about 10 hours a day) were more at risk of becoming frail, while those with consistently less sitting time had a lower risk of developing problems associated with frailty:

  • fewer reserves to recover from illness or injury
  • increased risk of hospitalization
  • increased risk of falls
  • earlier moves into residential care facilities
  • premature mortality

However, the good news is the effects of prolonged sitting are reversible

The researchers reported that participants who decreased their sitting time by approximately 2 hours per day reduced their risk of vulnerability, and as we know from other recent research from the American Heart Association, even the tiniest bouts of exercise can boost health!

Healthy living = smarter ageing, so here are some ideas for all on how to interrupt uninterrupted sitting

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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