Disability Risk of a Sedentary Lifestyle


Studies have shown that those who have a sedentary lifestyle are at a greater risk of developing physical disability. Although the study focused on individuals older than 60 years old, experts believe that the same can be said about those below the age of 60.

It is a widely accepted fact that being sedentary has numerous health risks as in such a state, a person often gets limited physical exercise. What is made clear now is that sitting excessively is not only dangerous because it simply limits physical movement but can also lead to certain problems and disabilities itself.  It is always assumed that people who cross the 60 mark have difficulty with the day-to-day activities because of their old age. However, age is not the only factor, as excessive sitting and being sedentary has a lot to do with it as well.

The study was spearheaded by Dorothy Dunlop, a professor of medicine at Northwestern. Her study focused on the question whether ideally sitting for long periods of time was something that lead to a risk or a risk of its own. Around 2,286 individuals, all above the age of 60, were studied. Each wore an accelerometer which measured their physical activity throughout the day noting how much, if any, physical movement they had. The results revealed that for every hour these participants spent sitting the risk they had of developing disability increased by 50%.

That is to say that someone who spent 12 hours a day sitting had a 6% chance of developing physical disability as compared to a 9% chance at disability for someone spending 13 hours a day sitting. This finding was quite troubling, as adults past the age of 60 spend most of their time sitting and barely have any physical movement. Their completely sedentary lifestyle puts them at a greater risk of developing any form of disability as opposed to others.

The study based the results on the individual’s ability to perform their day-to-day activities. These included talking a bath, dressing themselves, walking from room to room etc. Losing the ability to perform these activities means that they become more and more dependent on others.

The study did not include a younger audience, as cases of developing disabilities are uncommon in them. Experts, however, still warn them not to adopt a completely sedentary lifestyle. This mainly includes office workers who spend most of their time in front of a computer. While these experts do not advise quitting a job if it involves sitting, they urge those employees to every now and then take a break and stretch. Stretching and moving around a bit after every 30 minute interval takes away the negative impact of prolonged periods of sitting. Although the effects might not be visible at the moment, it could be that the disability becomes apparent later in life.

The same can be said about teens who spend most of their time using their computers. They should distribute their time accordingly and focus on physical exercise as well. A sedentary lifestyle might not look as hazardous at the moment, but the risk of it possibly leading to development of disability is too great a threat to ignore.

By Hammad Ali





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