Too much sitting taking place in aged care

There is far too much sitting going on among mobile adults living in residential aged care, according to the findings of joint NARI and Curtin University research.

Researchers, including NARI’s Clinical Director Dr Frances Batchelor, found that aged care residents sit for prolonged periods of time and only take part in exercise for bouts of less than ten minutes.

The study published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing involved 28 residents from three care units at one facility in Western Australia, who wore an accelerometer to track their activity during waking hours over five days.

The residents had differing activity levels from low intensity, light intensity and moderate to vigorous.

“We found that residents spent 85 per cent of the time sedentary, 12 per cent participating in low-intensity activities, two per cent in light intensity andonly one per cent in moderate-to-vigorous activity,” Dr Batchelor said.

“We are concerned about the length of time residents spend sitting, and it may be due to frailty and a fear of falling,” she added.

Other factors preventing movement include chronic muscle or joint problems, and potentially an inadequate amount of staff to encourage, facilitate and support residents’ physical activities.

“What is needed is a change in perception about what counts as physical activity. Tailored exercise where people improve their muscle strength is good,” Dr Batchelor said.