Work Hard, Live Longer? Study Shows Work in Older Adults Reduces Sedentary Behaviors
Sedentary behavior is characterized by periods of little physical activity (PA). Long sedentary times (ST) in older adults is a risk factor for many diseases. Older adults currently account for 28.6% of the Japanese population. This percentage is expected to increase to 38.4% by 2065. Thus, it is paramount to prevent chronic diseases and geriatric syndrome in this population. A simple contribution to better health is to maintain PA in older adults.
A new study by researchers from Ehime and Tokai universities, Japan, assessed ST and PA during work performed by older adults, and examined the relationship between work and ST/PA in daily life. To do this, the researchers recruited 231 older adults from the Silver Human Resources Center, a public service corporation that offers improved accessibility to employment in adults of retirement age and older. The research team measured their daily PA using an accelerometer and then analyzed the results. They found that clerical workers had the longest periods of ST and shortest periods of light-intensity PA during work, but other occupational classes all experienced similar amounts of light-intensity PA. They also found that construction and mining workers experienced relatively longer periods of moderate-to-vigorous PA during work. In general, older adults who worked were found to have shorter ST and longer PA in their daily lives as compared to those who did not work. Finally, the researchers saw that workers with longer weekly work hours had significantly shorter ST and longer PA. This trend was particularly strong in older adults in blue-collar occupations.
These findings support the role of work, especially blue-collar work, in promoting PA and its subsequent health benefits in older adults. Future longitudinal studies will help corroborate these results. However, the generalization possibilities of the current study is limited due to the broad classification of occupational classes used here, as well as the general health and positive work attitudes of the participants of the study.
Nevertheless, this study is the first to objectively investigate ST/PA in older adults, thereby laying the groundwork for future research in the field and helping redefine views on the use of work to promote PA in older adults.
Link to the original journal article:
Relationships between work and objectively measured sedentary time and physical activity in older adults: a descriptive cross-sectional study
Naofumi Yamamoto, Hidenori Asai, Yumiko Hagi
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