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The Scary Side Effects of Being 60 and Sedentary, Science Reveals

Living a sedentary life at 60 is putting you at a major health risk, so it's time to get active.

If there's one thing you should positively not do as you age, it's lead a sedentary life. Many individuals are guilty of being sedentary for a good part of each day. After all, so many people work from home on a laptop, and a comfy couch is so inviting at the end of a long day. But from the span of 1950 to 2019, the number of jobs that require sitting jumped up substantially—83%—according to the American Heart Association (via Forbes). Sitting can be relaxing on the couch as you view your favorite streaming service, typing behind a computer screen, and driving a car during your commute to/from work. To ensure you're aware of the health risks associated with over-sitting, we've rounded up some of the scary side effects of being 60 and sedentary, according to science.

Over-sitting is connected to obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

mature man sedentary at 60 on the couch watching tv

When you are young, it seems as though you're always on the go. Between sports, activities, errands, and social plans, it's difficult to find any downtime. Once you reach 60 years of age and older, it's common for your routine to change. You may be home more, and it's easy to get into the habit of being sedentary.

Why is being sedentary so bad for you? After all, you've worked hard your entire life, so isn't now the time to sit back, relax, and smell roses? Nope! By staying in a sitting position for long periods of time, you are using much less energy than when you're moving around or even standing, according to Mayo Clinic. Rather than sitting back to smell the roses, you should be out in the garden planting and picking them. Research indicates that sitting for long chunks of time is connected to so many health conditions, including obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Over-sitting also puts you at higher risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even death.

Related: The Worst Fitness Mistakes at 40 That Are Hurting Your End Game

Living a sedentary life at 60 puts you at greater risk of dementia.

risk of alzheimers

That's not all! A recent study indicates that being 60, sedentary, and watching television or being on your laptop can even be a recipe for dementia. Working outside in the garden is sounding much more appealing, are we right?

Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., Johns Hopkins cardiologist and associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease points out the serious risks of being sedentary, explaining, "A large review of studies published in 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that even after adjusting for physical activity, sitting for long periods was associated with worse health outcomes including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Sedentary behavior can also increase your risk of dying, either from heart disease or other medical problems."

Related: The Lifestyle Habits That Slow Down Aging, From a 100-Year-old Neurologist

Research shows that if you're sedentary for over 10 hours in a day, your risk of cardiovascular issues heightens.

mature woman on laptop sedentary at 60 on the couch

You may be exercising each day, but if you're sitting for the rest of the time, it's extremely unhealthy. Sitting won't necessarily void the benefits you reap from exercising, as Michos adds, "More recent research shows that high levels of exercise can lessen some of the risk. Yet even for people with high levels of activity, there seems to be a threshold around 10 hours of sitting." What the research indicates is that if you are sedentary for over 10 hours in a day, your risk of cardiovascular issues increases.

Here's what you can do to change those bad sedentary habits you've developed.

mature active couple taking dog for walk

What can you do to switch things up and change from being 60 and sedentary? Michos recommends making it a point to move your body each hour of the day. He also suggests picking up a pedometer, as it can be a great motivator and reminder. It's healthy to get in 10,000 steps each day, so you can use that as a guideline. Every step you take will help you reach a healthy number of steps, and 10,000 steps is a goal you can work up to.

Walk to complete any tasks you need to do, whether it's taking your dog for a few walks each day, emptying the garbage, completing a few laps around the house to put laundry away, or parking further away when you head out for errands. If you do have to work behind a desk, get up and walk while you're on phone calls, or even hop on an exercise bike or treadmill. Another alternative to sitting behind a desk is to purchase a standing desk and keep it at table height. Don't forget—standing expends more energy than sitting!

And if you want to binge-watch your favorite flicks, consider doing some exercise while doing it. Stream your shows while you're getting in those strides on a treadmill or doing some standing exercises with hand weights. Every bit of physical movement will help you move better, keep up your muscle tone, and enhance your mental health (via Mayo Clinic).

Research indicates that if you take breaks regularly in between being sedentary, you can lower your health risks significantly. Before you know it, you will reduce your waistline, triglyceride levels, and body mass index. Enter your 60s as healthy as you possibly can with a few simple changes in your routine!

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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