Health Risks for Aging Couch Potatoes

Sedentary behaviour has been linked to several chronic conditions in seniors.

Most Canadians spend at least half our waking hours sitting…

“Please sit quietly!” Do you remember this request as a child – and finding it almost impossible to do? Coincidentally, we got so much better at it as we grew older!

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Well, it turns out this is one skill we shouldn’t be practicing to perfection as we age into our 50+ and senior years. Studies show that too many of us spend too much time being “sedentary” – sitting or lying down and expending very little energy. In fact, most Canadians spend at least half our waking hours sitting. That includes the hours we spend commuting, at work and during leisure time (watching television and computer screens, reading and dining).

Too much time spent sitting can increase our risk for heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, depression and other mental health concerns, and cancer.

What’s more, even mature adults and senior citizens who exercise for the minimum recommended 150 minutes a week are still at risk of poor health if they regularly sit for long stretches of time. That may come as a a surprise to people who think that as long as they’re getting some regular exercise, it doesn’t matter what they do – or don’t do – the rest of the time. 

What the research tells us:

  • We need to think about sitting less – not just exercising more – to change our sedentary behavior.
  • Step counters such as pedomoters or accelerometers help to reduce sedentary time.
  • Setting a goal – for example 10,000 steps a day – helps reduce sedentary time even more, particularly if the goal is customized to the needs and abilities of the individual.

Health Risks for Aging Couch Potatoes article source Sitting too much? Take steps to support healthy aging by McMaster Optimal Aging Portal

mcmaster optimal agingVisit the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal online at for more information. The Portal is a free website for seniors that provides evidence-based information about healthy aging.

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & writer Anita Hamilton's articles are inspired by real historical events, places, and people. Her travel experiences, a lifelong keen interest in history, art, vintage music, books, silent films, classic movies, "golden age" television shows, fashion, & entertainment in general - combined with years of research - make her a subject matter expert with acquired knowledge & expertise on these topics. This, and a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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