New study: Elderly women need to be more active

Sedentary lifestyle not good for your health

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Leading a sedentary lifestyle is not good for your health.  But a new study finds elderly women may spend as much as two-thirds of their waking hours in sedentary behavior.

"They found these women were awake, on average, 14.8 hours, but 65% of the time they spent sedentary," said Dr. Ronan Factora, who did not take part in the study but is a geriatrician at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health studied 7,000 women, with an average age of 71.  They wore an accelerometer to measure their movement for a week.

Results show that after seven days, women wore the device for almost 15 hours each day, but about 10 hours of that time was spent sitting down. Researchers say most sedentary time occurred in periods of shorther duration, averaging at least 30 minutes at a time.

They hope the results could be used to educate older people about the benefits of becoming a little more active.  Factora agrees.

"Clearly the benefits for all of the major diseases: high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, they can be impacted by being physically active and exercising," said Factora.

Factora says as little as 15 to 30 minutes a day spent walking can provide health benefits. Complete findings for this study are in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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