Women who spend more time sitting down as they age are at higher risk of becoming frail, a University of Queensland study has found.
Researchers looked into the sitting patterns of almost 5,500 middle-aged Australian women over a 12-year period.
NHMRC Research Fellow Dr Paul Gardiner, from UQ’s Centre for Health Services Research, said women were more at risk than men.
“Women who had high levels of sitting – about ten hours a day – were more at risk of becoming frail,” Dr Gardiner said.
“Those with consistently less sitting time had a lower risk of developing problems.
“We classed 5.5 hours sitting per day as a medium level of sitting, while 3.5 hours per day represented a low level.
“Frailty means that you have fewer reserves to recover from illness or injury.
“It’s also linked to increased risk of hospitalisation, falls, moving into residential care facilities, and premature mortality.”
Dr Gardiner said, fortunately, the effects of sitting too long could be reversed.
“Participants who decreased their sitting time by approximately two hours per day reduced their risk of vulnerability,” he said.
“In order to remove the increased risk altogether, women should try and limit their sitting time to low or medium levels, as well as being physically active.”
The study is published in American Journal of Epidemiology, and used data from the Australian Longitudinal study of Women’s Health.
(Source: University of Queensland, American Journal of Epidemiology)