Senior Women Sedentary for Two-Thirds of Day, Study Finds

Looking forward to the day when you can sit around, eat pizza, and catch up on Orange Is The New Black indefinitely? Well, not so fast. (Or, uh, slow.) New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday finds that the sedentary habits of the nation’s older women is not exactly active — with many women spending as much as two-thirds of their day sitting. And that's bad news for their health, considering sitting for long periods of time could be as deadly as smoking.

Of the roughly 7,000 women surveyed (who had an average age of 71) many spent over 9 hours not moving around. Thirty-two percent of sedentary behavior occurred in 30 minute time periods, and twelve percent of that non-moving time happened for an hour or more. Just standing up triggers fat and sugar breakdown processes in the body, while sitting down stops these processes and increases risk to health.

“We need to really look more into what it means to be sedentary and active,” Eric Shiroma, research associate at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston and lead author of the study, told Bloomberg News. “It’s not simply the time in the gym. There is the whole rest of the day out there. We need to be able to do that before we can make recommendations.”

There is little data on the patterns of sedentary lifestyle, and the authors took into account whether the women were smokers, their age, and their body mass index (BMI). According to the World Health Organization, older adults should exercise at least 150 minutes a week, and any aerobic activity should be done for at least 10 minutes.

Future studies hope to delve further into the health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, and into whether the common recommendation of moving about every 30 minutes is actually beneficial to health.

But it’s not just baby boomers who are at risk from their static state.

In October, a study by LUMO BodyTech, a company that seeks to improve the posture of the country's MacBook dwellers, found that 60 percent of Americans suffer from Silicon Valley Syndrome, a side-effect of the increased use of technology and characterized by those familiar ailments of eye strain, back pain, and neck pain.

And the phrase "sitting is the new smoking" is being used more and more. A recent Mayo Clinic study found a 50 percent increase in risk of death for those who logged more than four hours sitting in front of a screen, and a 125 percent increase in the risk of chest pains or heart attacks.

But with winter weather dumping snow and whipping up a chill, it's understandable why even the most active senior citizens might not exactly feel like hitting the gym.

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