We all know that a lifestyle of a good diet and regular exercise is the prescription for better health as we age, but did you know that sitting too much can also be a problem?
It’s true. Doctors are finding more and more that sitting for too many hours a day can be linked to health problems such as:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Increased risk of stroke
It is more clear than ever that risk factors associated with an early death are increased with a sedentary lifestyle, including sitting too much. One study found that the lowest risk of early death was among the baby boomer generation who had a lifestyle where they weren’t sitting for more than a half-hour at a time.
While sitting too much is not a good habit to fall into, neither does it mean that you need to stand for hours on end. The point is not to stand more, but to sit less. So, the bottom line is gentle activity or even slow movement is better than sitting still for extended periods of time.
How You Can Sit Less Each Day
Here are a few suggestions to help you spend less time in that recliner every day:
• Stretch breaks. If you find yourself sitting in front of your computer or TV every day, get up frequently to stretch. All that is needed is to just move your legs for a few minutes. Even walking around your house would do the trick.
• Phone time. Try to avoid sitting when talking on the phone. You can walk around, pace the hallway, or even go outside for a few minutes if you’re using a cell phone!
• Try to walk for a few minutes each day. A good old-fashioned walk is one of the best forms of exercise! Not only will it keep you more fit, but will also help increase or improve energy levels, balance and coordination. A brisk walk each day will also help you sleep better.
• Get a dog. Pets are a wonderful thing for seniors because they require some exercise and also make great companions. If a senior can’t handle a puppy or young dog who is still very active, consider adopting an older dog who will only need mild exercise such as a short walk. There is no doubt that pets keep us active, no matter our age!
• Pay attention to the number of steps you take each day. There are apps that are super easy to use and will track your steps. Some apps will also alert you if you’ve been sitting too long. Older adults who retire and spend more time at home generally do not realize how long they are staying seated each day. Pay attention to how often you get up and walk and you will probably be surprised.
• Rethink television. Think multi-tasking here! If you’re in front of the television anyway, why not do something active instead of sitting on the couch? Mild exercise and stretching can easily be done while watching your favorite show! You could also get some movement by cleaning the room or vacuuming, etc. If you have space to put a stationary bike, this would also be a great thing to do while watching TV.
• Play with the grandkids! There is no doubt that children keep us on the move! They also keep us healthier because they allow you to feel young at heart. If your grandchildren don’t live nearby, consider volunteering for a children’s charity or keeping the nursery at church. There are many ways to hang out with the kids!
Sitting often just becomes a bad habit, but you have the power to change it by replacing one behavior with another. Be aware of how often you sit and ask yourself if you really need to sit down. Tuning in to your own behavior patterns will open your eyes! And the best part of all is that it won’t take long to see some very positive results!
If you have any questions, please contact us.
Home Helpers of San Rafael is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, Larkspur, Tiburon, Corte Madera, Sausalito, Belvedere, Ross, and Greenbrae, California.
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