Sitting Time Linked to Increased Disability

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dorothy D Dunlop, PhD Professor, Medicine-Rheumatology Center for Healthcare Studies - Institute for Public Health and Medicine and Preventive Medicine Northwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineDorothy D Dunlop, PhD
Professor, Medicine-Rheumatology
Center for Healthcare Studies – Institute for Public Health and Medicine and Preventive Medicine
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Dunlop: We know being active, especially doing moderate activity like taking a brisk walk, is good for health. We know a sedentary lifestyle leads to health problems. What we do not know is whether or not those are two ways of looking at the same question. Does being sedentary like sitting just reflect insufficient activity OR is sedentary time is a separate and distinct risk factor for health problems. Our physical activity research group looked at national US data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  This is an important study because they monitored physical activity using an accelerometer.  We found sedentary behavior such as sitting was its own separate risk factor for disability.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Dunlop: We were impressed at the strength and consistency of the relationship between sedentary time and disability.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Dunlop:  “There are two messages here.

  • First, being physically active is very important.  It is well documented that recommended levels of moderate activity reduces the risk for disability.
  • Second, being sedentary is a separate and important risk factor. People should focus on both. Be as active as possible.  And for people who spend a large portion of their day sitting, it is beneficial to find opportunities to replace some of that sitting with other activities. The bottom line is to stay active and reduce sitting

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Dunlop: Because our study examined data collected at one point in time, it does not determine sedentary behavior causes disability.  It does draw our attention to the fact sedentary behavior is a problem.  Future studies need to look at the relationship of sedentary time and the subsequent development of disability.

Citation:

Sedentary Time in U.S. Older Adults Associated With Disability in Activities of Daily Living Independent of Physical Activity

 JPAH In Press

Authors: Dorothy Dunlop1, Jing Song1, Emily Arnston2, Pamela Semanik3, Jungwha Lee4, Rowland Chang4, and Jennifer M. Hootman5

Acceptance Date: November 12, 2013

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2013-0311