From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton

Posted on July 7, 2014 by Stone Hearth News


Almost three quarters of older people sit for more than 8 hours a day, leading to increased risk of obesity, depression and even death.

Now a landmark study, led by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), will develop techniques to help older people get out their chairs, improving their physical and mental health.

Professor Dawn Skelton, expert in Ageing and Health, will lead a multi-disciplinary team of more than 15 academics from five UK universities, funded by the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme.

She said: “Long periods of sitting are associated with a bigger waist, depression and social isolation, even an increased risk of death. These associations appear to be strong even if people are active in other parts of their day. It seems that prolonged sitting is the new ‘public health enemy’, but this study will look at how we can change that behaviour.

“Our whole culture is ‘to care’ for our older population and encourage them to sit down. Nursing home residents spend most of their day sitting and chairs in hospital patients encouraged to sit.  We have known about the dangers of bed rest to bone and muscle for many years, so we should not be encouraging prolonged sitting.”

Researchers have already discovered that people say they sit for shorter periods than they actually do. A key part of the study will see the team unravelling the reasons behind this.

The team, including researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Salford, will look at how National Health Surveys – one of the main ways the health service and government works out how healthy the population is – can better capture the length of time people sit for.

To do this they will compare self-reporting with monitors fitted to the body that objectively record the amount of time spent during the day.

Prolonged Sitting

The team will also interview older people about what are they doing while sitting and during which parts of their day might they be willing to get up and be more active.

The scientists will work with two groups of older people, one from the west of Scotland and one from the east, both born in the 1930s. The two groups have engaged with studies in the past, meaning historical data such as blood samples, medical diagnoses, education and brain scans can be investigated to see how they are related to the amount of time the group spend sitting.

The study also aims to discover how older people themselves think it is best to break up long periods of sitting.

Professor Skelton added: “Not all sitting is bad. People need to rest and there are many potential reasons why people become sedentary. But we should aim to get up regularly, say every hour, and move about.

“Researchers are learning more and more about the effects of sitting on the body and mind and the results of our study will help us further understand how and when we could intervene to increase regular movement.”


by Jeanne Hambleton 

As the years wear on sadly we get slower,  discover pains here and there, and when it when it rains we feel it in our bones. We  possibly spend a lot of time looking at the television.

May I just gently remind you of the old saying, “use it or lose it”. We are talking about our brain power and your activities.

Had you thought about sorting out  all those lovely old photographs  in the cupboard.  Maybe you could start a new album and perhaps add your memory notes about when this picture was taken. Do remember your grandchildren and family will look at these photographs in years to come and doubtless wonder who is that lady in the funny hat.

I am sure they would welcome a little added comment about when it was taken  and  names of those who are in the picture.  If you can keep them in order  relating to when they were taken, you can sort them in the year they were likely taken. You will  enjoy the happy memories while you are doing this.

You could turn out your wardrobe and look at some of those clothes that have  sentimental and happy memories but do not fit you any more. If you have  a sympathetic charity shop they might sell my three or four items making a little profit for them and some pocket money for you.  In my book charity shops should be charitable. Fine if folk can afford to give them clothes but it would be charitable if they could help “ladies in retirement” sell some items. You could almost start your own small clothes sales with support from a friend or family.

If you belong to a social club, talk to the other ladies and suggest a little sale. You can then swop or sell a few things. Do not  take  too much as it will be heavy to carry and  you can always organise another sale in  a few weeks.

A bit of gardening can be rewarding of the weather is good. Ask someone in your family to help yu with a raised garden bed.  Maybe a son in law might help with some old bricks and soil from elsewhere and you would avoid bending and making your back ache. .  Maybe plant a few veg seed or flowers.  It is rewarding and it will keep you out of mischief.  If you have grandchildren get them involved if they are old enough to do some weeding, or cut the grass.

Find those old family recipe books and try  a bit of old fashioned cooking. Pudding the corner with suet baked dumplins in a sea of nice mined meat, comes to mind. Apples dumplins with custard… I do not think you  can buy that in a  food store.

Maybe you fancy  baking some fairy cakes  and decorate with sweet to take to your social club. You can reward your grandchildren with your cakes for helping in the garden.

Why not start a food diary and mark up  a meal you really enjoyed to try it again.  You can also  make sure that your diet is nutritious and is providing all you need.

You might like doing jigsaw puzzles. You could find some second hand puzzles in the charity  shops.  When you have done one  you could be cheeky and take it back and ask if you can exchange it, as this one was too easy.  Some folks find this very rewarding and  will certainly help to sharpen your brain.

If you have a pack of cards in the house try patience –  – join through all the cards until you find the top card in all four series, and again through the cards to find the king, the the Queen and so on.  Turn the rio on and see if you can still do the waltz or even thequicksep. If you are talented you might be able to do a little tap dance in he kitchen on the tiles but take it careful. We do no want any accidents.

Crosswords in the  newspaper  or buy one of these civity books with dots,lines and questions. do a title every day to harpen your responses.

Of course there is always knitting, crocheting or sewing. In my house someone always wants a  button or badge for  Beavers and Cubs sewing on.  With three small grandsons in the house I have a lot of stitching ahead of  me.

You can always flick around with the feather duster o a sing along and a few gentle dance steps.I have got some dust if you are looking for some nd I bet a lot of folk would be please to see you with your feather duster.

Maybe you can borrow one of your grandchildren’s games and play with them. Scrabble would keep you on our toes.  If you can get your hands on a Tesco Hudl tablet, this would be a new adventure.  No you do not take it with water at bedtime.

I think techno tablets should be provided when you get your pension. Do you think thee is a chance UJIP might put this on their election manifesto  – that would be some reason to look forward to the election  in May 2015.

It is a new adventure and if you could borrow one from a grandchild and have a go, you could become addicted.  You can play games, get your groceries delivered to you door and send emails saving on the scandalous cost of postage.  You could send all your Christmas card for nothing.  It really is a new electronic world.  When  your family asks what you want for a birthday tell them to get together and get you a tablet. That will make them  take notice  of their “techo gran”.  You can then say, been there, done that, and now I want the tee shirt.

 The University of the Third Age – U3A.

Have you heard of the University of the Third Age (U3A)? This might be the answer you have been looking for.  The  University of the Third Age (U3A) movement is an unique and exciting organisation which provides, through its U3As, life-enhancing and life-changing opportunities. Retired and semi-retired people come together and learn together, not for qualifications but for its own reward: the sheer joy of discovery!

Members share their skills and life experiences: the learners teach and the teachers learn, and there is no distinction between them. (

Local U3As are learning cooperatives which draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to organise and provide interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership. The teachers learn and the learners teach. Between them U3As offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects in such fields as art, languages, music, history, life sciences, philosophy, computing, crafts, photography and walking.  A typical U3A has about 250 members but could be as small as 12 and as large as 2000.

The U3A approach to learning is – learning for pleasure.  There is no accreditation or validation and there are no assessments or qualifications to be gained.

The U3A movement is supported by its national organisation, the Third Age Trust. This would certainly keep your brain active.  If you contact your local  council offices they traditionally have a list of  local organisations and should be able to tell you who to contact if you are interested.

If you decided to join the University of the Third Age I reckon you would be wanting a tablet for Christmas from the family.  No time to get bored  that is for sure.



From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton

Embargo expired: 3-Jul-2014 2:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Virginia

Newswise — Most people are just not comfortable in their own heads, according to a new psychological investigation led by the University of Virginia.

The investigation found that most would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts, said the researchers, whose findings will be published July 4 in the journal Science.

In a series of 11 studies, U.Va. psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues at U.Va. and Harvard University found that study participants from a range of ages generally did not enjoy spending even brief periods of time alone in a room with nothing to do but think, ponder or daydream. The participants, by and large, enjoyed much more doing external activities such as listening to music or using a smartphone. Some even preferred to give themselves mild electric shocks than to think.

“Those of us who enjoy some down time to just think likely find the results of this study surprising – I certainly do – but our study participants consistently demonstrated that they would rather have something to do than to have nothing other than their thoughts for even a fairly brief period of time,” Wilson said.

The period of time that Wilson and his colleagues asked participants to be alone with their thoughts ranged from six to 15 minutes. Many of the first studies involved college student participants, most of whom reported that this “thinking period” was not very enjoyable and that it was hard to concentrate. So Wilson conducted another study with participants from a broad selection of backgrounds, ranging in age from 18 to 77, and found essentially the same results.

“That was surprising – that even older people did not show any particular fondness for being alone thinking,” Wilson said.

He does not necessarily attribute this to the fast pace of modern society, or the prevalence of readily available electronic devices, such as smartphones. Instead, he thinks the devices might be a response to people’s desire to always have something to do.

In his paper, Wilson notes that broad surveys have shown that people generally prefer not to disengage from the world, and, when they do, they do not particularly enjoy it. Based on these surveys, Americans spent their time watching television, socializing or reading, and actually spent little or no time “relaxing or thinking.”

During several of Wilson’s experiments, participants were asked to sit alone in an unadorned room at a laboratory with no cell phone, reading materials or writing implements, and to spend six to 15 minutes – depending on the study – entertaining themselves with their thoughts. Afterward, they answered questions about how much they enjoyed the experience and if they had difficulty concentrating, among other questions.

Most reported they found it difficult to concentrate and that their minds wandered, though nothing was competing for their attention. On average the participants did not enjoy the experience. A similar result was found in further studies when the participants were allowed to spend time alone with their thoughts in their homes.

“We found that about a third admitted that they had ‘cheated’ at home by engaging in some activity, such as listening to music or using a cell phone, or leaving their chair,” Wilson said. “And they did not enjoy this experience any more at home than at the lab.”

An additional experiment randomly assigned participants to spend time with their thoughts or the same amount of time doing an external activity, such as reading or listening to music, but not to communicate with others. Those who did the external activities reported that they enjoyed themselves much more than those asked to just think, that they found it easier to concentrate and that their minds wandered less.

The researchers took their studies further. Because most people prefer having something to do rather than just thinking, they then asked, “Would they rather do an unpleasant activity than no activity at all?”

The results show that many would. Participants were given the same circumstances as most of the previous studies, with the added option of also administering a mild electric shock to themselves by pressing a button.

Twelve of 18 men in the study gave themselves at least one electric shock during the study’s 15-minute “thinking” period. By comparison, six of 24 females shocked themselves. All of these participants had received a sample of the shock and reported that they would pay to avoid being shocked again.

“What is striking,” the investigators write, “is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”

Wilson and his team note that men tend to seek “sensations” more than women, which may explain why 67 percent of men self-administered shocks to the 25 percent of women who did.

Wilson said that he and his colleagues are still working on the exact reasons why people find it difficult to be alone with their own thoughts. Everyone enjoys daydreaming or fantasizing at times, he said, but these kinds of thinking may be most enjoyable when they happen spontaneously, and are more difficult to do on command.

“The mind is designed to engage with the world,” he said. “Even when we are by ourselves, our focus usually is on the outside world. And without training in meditation or thought-control techniques, which still are difficult, most people would prefer to engage in external activities.”

See you tomorrow Jeanne 


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