You’re probably reading this article while sitting comfortably in your seat. Well, it’s time to stand up! A new study highlights the hazards posed to your health by too much time spent sitting.
The study, published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, draws attention to the negative effects limited physical activity has on men’s bodies. Researchers found than men who sat for a minimum of five hours a day outside of work and exercised infrequently were more than twice as likely to develop heart failure as men who were more physically active and sat for less than two hours a day.
"Though traditionally we know quite a bit about the positive impact that physical activity has on cardiovascular disease, we know significantly less about the relationship between physical activity and heart failure," Deborah Rohm Young, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, said in a statement. "The results of this large study of a racially and ethnically diverse population reinforce the importance of a physically active and, importantly, a non-sedentary lifestyle for reducing the risk of heart failure."
Researchers looked at the electronic health records of more than 82,000 men between the ages of 45 and 69 over a 10 year period. The large sample included men of all races. The participants kept records of their physical activity levels and the amount of time they spent sitting outside of work.
Based on their findings, researchers concluded that men who were the least physically active were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure than the most active men.
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Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot maintain proper blood flow. According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 40 will develop heart failure at some point in their lives.
"If you've been sitting for an hour, you've been sitting too long," James Levine, co-director of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Arizona State University, told USA Today. Levine was a pioneer of research on sitting disease, but was not involved in this study. "My gut feeling is you should be up for 10 minutes of every hour."
This study is hardly the first to shed light on the negative impact a sedentary lifestyle can have on our bodies. A 2012 study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who sit for 11 hours a day or more are 40 percent more likely to die from any cause. Researchers noted the activity patterns of over 22,000 study participants.
"The evidence on the detrimental health effects of prolonged sitting has been building over the last few years," study author Hidde van der Ploeg told HealthDay in 2012. "The study stands out because of its large number of participants and the fact that it was one of the first that was able to look at total sitting time. Most of the evidence to date had been on the health risks of prolonged television viewing."
And in 2011, The New York Times ran an article that highlighted how quickly inactivity can cause harm to our bodies. Studies have shown that the leg muscles in rats that were forced to be sedentary lost 75 percent of their ability to remove harmful lip-proteins from the blood. Furthermore, human subjects who were asked to remain inactive for 24 hours recorded a 40 percent reduction in their bodies’ ability to take up glucose.