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How to Get Older Adults to Sit Less

Many of today’s older adults sit for long periods of time. A new study suggests that regular phone calls can motivate this group to get out of their chairs more often.

The report, published in Health Education & Behavior (2015; doi: 10.1177/1090198115577378), featured 25 adults, average age 71, with a BMI of about 34, who took part in a study called Take Active Breaks from Sitting. All subjects were given an activPALTM inclinometer, which measured sitting time and sit-to-stand transitions. Participants also self-reported their activity levels, functional capacity, study satisfaction and quality of life. Throughout the 8-week intervention,
each adult received five phone calls a week from a qualified individual who offered motivation and encouraged the participant to set activity goals.

By the study’s conclusion, average sit time had decreased by 27 minutes and standing time had increased by 25 minutes. Other measures—such as gait speed, depressive symptoms and overall physical activity—had also improved.

“Reducing sitting time is feasible, and the intervention shows preliminary evidence of effectiveness among older adults with overweight and obesity,” the authors explained.

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