Take a walk for a healthier retirement
Less sitting could be the key to making those retirement years a little more golden.
Researchers showed it was feasible to coach adults age 60 and older to spend an average of 27-minutes less per day sitting, according to the Group Health Research Institute’s Take Active Breaks from Sitting pilot study. Participants reported feeling more able to accomplish everyday tasks, and after coaching, they walked faster and had fewer symptoms of depression.
“In general, I recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise four to five days a week,” says Dr. Jose L. Guevara, an Advocate Medical Group family medicine physician at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “This can be something as simple as walking around your house or around the block.”
Older adults spend an average of 8.5 waking hours a day sitting or lying down, explained study leader Dori Rosenberg, PhD, an assistant scientific investigator at the Group Health Research Institute. That time has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and death, even if people are physically active at other times of the day.
“We’re not sure whether older people can improve their health by reducing the time they spend sitting,” Rosenberg said in a news release. “To prove that, we need randomized trials – and none have been done in older adults yet.”
Health coaches talked by phone with the 25 participants five times over eight weeks as a part of the study. The coaches used motivational techniques to set personalized goals to sit less and take more breaks from sitting throughout the day.
Patients tracked how much they thought they were sitting, measured how much they were actually sitting, and charted feedback from the measurements.
“I find that patients who are sedentary tend to have more complications than those who are active,” says Dr. Guevara. “I also find that patients who are sedentary tend to remain that way unless they have some form of motivation to be active. This may mean having a family member or spouse hold them accountable for exercising, which is similar to what this study indicates.”