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Why older adults have to work extra hard to stay active

Although we’re often told that getting up and getting moving is one of the keys to a healthy lifestyle, for some people it can be hard to simply do the “getting up” part. This is especially true for older adults, who are responsible for more sedentary time than any other age group – which can often result in a number of negative health problems.

A new study published by JAMA finds that among older adults with mobility impairments, long-term, moderate physical activity is associated with a slight reduction in total sedentary time.

Researchers Todd Manini and Amal Wanigatunga of the University of Florida and their colleagues looked at data from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study. This study contained two groups of 70 to 89-year-olds with mobility impairments: the PA group (which was given a goal of 150 minutes per week of walking) and the health education program (HE) group.

Participants in the study wore an accelerometer on their hip during waking hours for one week at baseline and 6, 12, and 24 months after. Over those two years, almost 1,300 participants had at least one follow-up assessment and almost 1,200 participants had data collected at the 24-month visit.

At six months, the data showed that the PA group had slightly less sedentary time than the HE group for sedentary times of 10 minutes or more and 30 minutes or more. For sedentary periods of 60 minutes or more, there were no significant differences.

“Overall, traditional approaches to increasing moderate-intensity physical activity have little transfer to reductions in total sedentary time and no transfer to prolonged bouts lasting an hour or longer,” the authors write. “Additional behavioral approaches are needed to target and reduce sedentary behaviors.”

By Connor Ertz, Staff Writer

Source: The Jama Network Journals

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