REDUCING SEDENTARY BEHAVIOR IN THE ELDERLY


While it true that most elderly adults spend the majority of their time in a sedentary position, this state of insufficient activity can lead to numerous chronic disease and early mortality. These are a factor that is the result of the lack of physical activity. Known as sedentary behavior (SB) in the healthcare industry, this is a distinct from too little exercise and is defined as “sitting or reclining during waking hours with low energy expenditure.”



However, recent studies have shown a break in sedentary time, such as merely standing up or walking across the room, allows for improved health and functionality in elderly adults. With only limited research done in this area, it leaves a gap in the understanding of the actual needs of the elderly who find themselves trapped in this situation.


Most elderly adults, when questioned about their daily activity describe long periods of time watching TV or else doing daily chores, which includes, personal care, preparing food or else straightening their surroundings, all which takes place within the home.


There is also a distinction between what is termed “high-value” sitting (social, cognitive or restorative activities) also known as purposeful activities and “low-value” or “passive” sitting. Of course, this can be a vicious circle since a decline in physical function can contribute to passive sitting.


One study has shown that useful strategies to break this pattern would include supporting older adults to engage with other people and local facilities outside the home, and break up periods of passive sitting at home.


The older adult finds it to be personally challenging to find ways to reduce sedentary behavior, especially in adults over the age of 70. One study program offered the solution that one should have at least 150 minutes of walking per week “in addition to strength, flexibility and balance training.” This study showed that “most physical activity programs fall short in addressing sedentary time in elderly adults. It’s promising that the exercise program helped older adults incorporate more walking and strength training into their daily routines. However, participants still spent large periods of time inactive, even after increasing their physical activity levels.”


While this blog is addressed to the elderly, our current society has the added issue that the habit of sedentary behavior is being set prior to reaching an age of 70. “The most common examples of sedentary time include sitting in front of a computer or desk at work or watching television. Prolonged periods of sedentary time on a regular basis have been shown to have a negative impact on overall health.


Call Missy Donaghy with Interiors for Seniors for a FREE consultation 321-279-3301.

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