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Baby Boomers: Get off your butts

A new study suggests that every hour we sit we increase the risk of a disability as we age.
Northwestern University

Here’s some life advice for Baby Boomers: Don’t sit around.

And we’re not talking just in the cosmic sense of getting going with the rest of your lives.

We’re talking literally: Get off your butts.

A new study by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine entitled “New Sitting Risk: Disability After 60” states unequivocally that the more you sit, the greater your risk of being disabled, not matter how active you are otherwise.

“This is the first time we’ve shown sedentary behavior was related to increased disability regardless of the amount of moderate exercise. Being sedentary is not just a synonym for inadequate physical activity,” Dorothy Dunlop, PhD, professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

“It means older adults need to reduce the amount of time they spend sitting, whether in front of the TV or at the computer, regardless of their participation in moderate or vigorous activity,” she added.

If you’re getting up there in age but are still working, a standing desk might be an option. It has the following benefits, according to Northwestern University researchers:

  • Fights obesity. When you sit for 40 to 50 hours a week, obesity becomes a concern because enzymes that break down lipids and triglycerides drop. In short, the more you sit, the more you slow your metabolism, which is counterintuitive to weight-loss and maintenance;
  • Prevents a heart attack. According to the American Cancer Society, if you sit for most of the day you are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack. This could be a combination of other variables, including obesity brought on body’s inability to process lipids as you remain inactive;
  • Burn calories. Standing expends 10% more energy than sitting. This means that if the average person burns 80 calories an hour sitting, and stands for half of the day instead, nearly 50 extra calories are burnt, in addition to the wide range of other benefits that occur.

Dunlop suggests the following everyday habits to use to reduce the amount of sitting:

  • Stand up when you talk on the phone or during a work meeting;
  • When you go to the grocery store or mall, park in a space farthest away;
  • When you get up to have glass of water, walk around the house or office;
  • Walk for short errands instead of taking the car;
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator if you are able.
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