We’ve all heard the tweetable saying that “sitting is the new smoking.” The medical and health experts have poked holes in that catchphrase, proving that smoking is way worse. Nevertheless, the media frenzy has brought much needed attention to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle that many Americans, particularly our older generation, are adopting. According to an American Journal of Public Health study, adults typically spend nine hours per day sitting. This is largely due to many jobs becoming more dependent on computers. This study concludes that those who sit less than four hours per day have fewer adverse health effects compared to those who sit for more than eight hours per day. Bottom line: it’s possible that the elderly you care for are sitting for eight hours or more, even if they aren’t working behind a computer. The elderly’s reasons for sitting differ from a middle-aged person who is working, but the adverse health effects are still a problem, perhaps even more so as you age.
So, what does sitting too much do to your health? Being a couch or chair potato contributes to cardiovascular disease, and increases likelihood of diabetes, all-cause mortality, cancer mortality, and even depression.
Like the rest of us, older people may know that exercise is good for their health. But, like the rest of us, they are good at making excuses NOT to do it! If the elderly you care for do not have the motivation to get moving, you can encourage them to give it a whirl. The motto should be start LOW (as in a low number of minutes per day, like 10) and go SLOW.
Here are things to weave into your motivational speeches:
- Regular physical activity—including endurance, muscle-strengthening, balance, and flexibility exercises—is essential for healthy aging.
- You can help set realistic goals and develop an exercise plan (calling the doctor is a good idea, hint!).
- You can research community resources, such as mall-walking groups and senior center fitness classes.
- You sleep better when you exercise, plus you reduce stress.
For more info on seniors and healthy hearts: https://scrippsamg.com/seniors-articles/american-heart-month-heart-healthy-tips-seniors