Sitting can cause major health issues in postmenopausal women, notes a new study from Cornell University. Nutritional scientist Rebecca Seguin studied 93,000 women already past menopause to determine how “sitting” affected their overall health.

The most sedentary of these women had a 12% increase in early death from any medical cause.

Sitting, or rest, in this study refers to any period of inactivity that did not include sleep. Some women were sitting or resting for more than 11 hours a day. The most active group had four hours or less of inactivity throughout their day and did not face the same health risks.

Worse still, Seguin said, excess sedentary time tends to make it harder to regain physical strength and function. Women begin to lose muscle mass at age 35, a change that accelerates with menopause. Regular exercise, especially lifting weights and other muscular strength-building exercises, helps to counteract these declines, but her research finds that more everyday movement on top of working out is also important for maintaining health.

While there are many risks of sitting, the largest is that it can be a silent killer, or at least a cause of medical conditions that lead to premature death. However, it is never too late to reverse the effects. Try these techniques to get more movement in your day:

  • Keep moving at work. Get up from your desk for at least five minutes every hour. Walk around the office or go for a walk outside.
  • Add walking to your daily routine. Walk for 20 minutes a day. Track how long you can walk during this period of time and try to increase the distance slowly.
  • Take breaks in your day. If you find yourself watching TV or reading, be conscious about how long you’re sitting. Get up and move around between episodes or chapters.

How can you get moving to decrease your risks of sitting? 

Image by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr

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