-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Older women who spend
too much time sitting are more likely to die at an earlier age than
highly active women, a large, long-term study says.
Researchers analyzed data from 93,000 postmenopausal American
women. They found that women who spent more than 11 hours a day
sitting or otherwise being inactive had a 12 percent higher risk of
premature death from all causes than those who were inactive for
four hours or less per day.
Women who were inactive also were 13 percent more likely to die
of cardiovascular disease, 21 percent more likely to die of cancer
and 27 percent more likely to die of coronary heart disease,
according to the study.
The women were 50 to 79 years old at the start of the study and
were followed for 12 or more years. The findings were published
online in the
American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"The assumption has been that if you're fit and physically active, that will protect you, even if you spend a huge amount of time sitting each day," study leader Rebecca Seguin, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University, said in a university news release. "[But] in doing so, you are far less protected from negative health effects of being sedentary than you realize."
Seguin said women begin to lose muscle mass at age 35, and that
loss accelerates with menopause. Although working out regularly,
especially with weights, can help counteract that effect, it's also
important for women to incorporate more everyday movement in their
"In general, a use-it-or-lose-it philosophy applies," Seguin said. "We have a lot of modern conveniences and technologies that, while making us more efficient, also lead to decreased activity and diminished ability to do things. Women need to find ways to remain active."
Starting in middle age and even younger, women can make "small
changes that make a big difference," she said.
"If you're in an office, get up and move around frequently," Seguin said. "If you're retired and have more idle time, find ways to move around inside and outside the house. Get up between TV programs, take breaks in computer and reading time, and be conscious of interrupting prolonged sedentary time."
Although the study showed a connection between older women
sitting more and higher risk of early death, it didn't establish a
The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about
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