Sitting less as an older adult may sound counterintuitive. Still, it’s critical to maintain your health and mobility as you age—the more passive the lifestyle, the greater the loss of mobility and independence over time. Physical therapists also recommend that people do regular exercises that will help increase their muscle strength, balance, and endurance to protect them from falls and injuries as they age. Here are some reasons why sitting less as an older adult will improve your health and keep you feeling young.
The prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically over recent decades. Around 70% of adults in America are now overweight or obese. Being overweight is associated with numerous health risks, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoarthritis. But how does sitting less help to combat these issues? Recent research suggests that sitting too much can also lead to higher bad cholesterol (LDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Even more worryingly, sitting too much may raise your risk of cardiovascular disease even if you do not gain weight. This means that if you’re already at a healthy weight or leaner, reducing the amount of time spent seated could improve your overall health and lower your risk for heart disease.
High Blood Pressure
Sitting for long periods can increase your risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Get up regularly to walk around or shake out your limbs. Walking is an easy habit to form, and it’s free, so there’s no excuse not to get up regularly. Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, but if you’re seated most of that time, you won’t get very far. Instead, try walking around every 20-30 minutes for a minimum of 5 minutes at a time.
The more time you spend sitting, particularly in a chair, means greater the risk of cardiovascular disease. Inactivity raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can cause heart disease to develop. If you exercise or move around when you can, or at least try to reduce your inactivity during your day, it’s a good start for preventing heart issues as an older adult. That said, even with a healthy diet and exercise routine, it’s still important to try and limit your inactivity throughout your day. Simple ways to help minimize the time you spend sitting include standing while on the phone or getting up periodically from your desk.
By sitting less, you are reducing your risk of stroke. Sitting for long periods is known to increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, leading to clots that cause strokes. To reduce your risk, take frequent breaks throughout your day—from sitting or standing—by standing up straight and taking a short walk around your office or home to help improve circulation. Additionally, be sure to exercise regularly. Start off slowly by doing 20 minutes of moderate activity daily before gradually increasing over time as you feel more comfortable.
Sitting too much increases your risk of depression. Researchers believe prolonged sitting causes high levels of bad cholesterol and blood sugar, which leads to insulin resistance, diabetes, and inflammation—all of which contribute to mood disorders. So if you’re feeling down or anxious, try getting up every 30 minutes and taking a 5-minute walk around your office or house to lower your risk for depression and increase your overall well-being.