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Research Review

Take a Stand, Be Active to Reduce Chronic Disease, Make Aging Easier

People who decrease sitting time and increase physical activity have a lower risk of chronic disease, according to Kansas State University research. The research appears in BMC Public Health.

Even standing throughout the day—instead of sitting for hours at a time—can improve health and quality of life while reducing the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

The researchers studied a sample of 194,545 men and women aged 45 to 106. The data was from the 45 and Up Study, a large Australian study of health and aging.

"Not only do people need to be more physically active by walking or doing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, but they should also be looking at ways to reduce their sitting time," says Richard Rosenkranz, PhD, an assistant professor of human nutrition.

The twofold approach of sitting less and moving more is key to improving health, the researchers say. People often spend the majority of the day being sedentary and might devote 30 to 60 minutes a day to exercise or physical activity, according to Sara Rosenkranz, PhD, an assistant professor of human nutrition. Taking breaks to stand up or move around can make a difference during long periods of sitting.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time with minimal muscular contraction occurring shuts off a molecule called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), Sara Rosenkranz says. LPL helps take in fat or triglycerides and use it for energy.

"We're basically telling our bodies to shut down the processes that help to stimulate metabolism throughout the day and that is not good," Sara Rosenkranz says. "Just by breaking up your sedentary time, we can actually upregulate that process in the body."

In a previous study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the researchers found that the more people sit, the greater their chances of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality.

For the more recent study, the researchers wanted to take a positive approach and see if increasing physical activity helped increase health and quality of life. The researchers want to motivate people to sit less and move more so they can age easier with less chronic disease.

"There is only so far that messages about avoiding diseases can go, especially when talking about chronic disease because it is so far removed and in the future," Richard Rosenkranz says. "For young people, being motivated by avoiding diseases is probably not the most pressing matter in their lives. We wanted to look at excellent health and excellent quality of life as things to aspire to in health."

— Source: Kansas State University