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November 2012

Women Who Exercise May Still Sit Too Much

Women who engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity may still be sitting too much during the week, a recent study suggests.

Northwestern University researchers recruited 91 healthy women between the ages of 40 and 75 years old to complete a questionnaire and wear an activity monitor for one week. The monitor measured the time in minutes that each subject spent sitting, standing, and stepping throughout the day. The research team divided the participants into groups based on how much exercise they engaged in per week.

The results showed that the participants spent 64 hours per week on average sitting down, compared to 28 hours standing and 11 hours of non-exercise stepping. These numbers were similar between the groups regardless of amount of physical activity, even in women who met or exceeded the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. Time spent sitting, standing and stepping did not differ on days with or without exercise.

The researchers concluded that exercising regularly may be unrelated to time spent sitting. They stated that further study is needed to create recommendations focusing on sedentary time.

Exercise is any form of physical activity that helps to promote overall health. Most movement of the body is considered beneficial, as long as it is done in moderation and at the skill level of the person. There are many ways for people to exercise including, gardening, walking, sports activities, and dancing. Patients beginning an exercise program should choose activities that fit their levels of strength and endurance. Exercise that causes extreme pain or discomfort is considered by many experts as unhealthy, and may even cause permanent damage to the body.

Exercising on a regular basis may decrease the risk of developing many illnesses, such as heart disease.

Based on expert opinion, most regular exercise plans adjusted for the abilities and goals of the patient are about equally beneficial. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that patients choose exercise programs they will do consistently. They also recommend lower impact forms of exercise, such as walking or swimming for pregnant patients and patients unable to handle more intense forms of exercise.

For more information about exercise, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.


  1. Craft LL, Zderic TW, Gapstur SM, et al. Evidence that women meeting physical activity guidelines do not sit less: An observational inclinometry study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Oct 4;9(1):122. [Epub ahead of print] View Abstract
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
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