Can Sitting Less Decrease Your Risk Of Heart Disease?


Published:

Pick up a new hobby that builds nonsedentary activities into your daily schedule, like gardening or yoga.

Too much sitting has long been criticized for contributing to premature mortality, Type 2 diabetes, and a host of other illnesses. In a new study of 5,638 women, we looked at how sedentary behavior was related to future cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The results showed that those who were most sedentary had the highest risk for having a future CVD event. We also found that women who most often interrupted their sedentary time to stand up and move had significantly lower risk for CVD than women who sat for long stretches of time without standing up. The results persisted even after accounting for other common factors linked with CVD such as age, overall health, blood pressure and cholesterol.

CVD includes heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and other diseases concerning the heart and blood vessels. It is the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 1 in 4 deaths annually.

Our findings, along with the research discussed below, provides strong evidence that sitting too much is an important factor to consider for heart health of older women.

What Happens When We Sit?

Typical sedentary behaviors include almost everything done while sitting, such as watching TV, eating, and typing blog posts. Sedentary behaviors have soared in recent years as our world has been increasingly engineered to minimize required movement. We have TV remotes to avoid moving from the couch and AI voice assistants that can play music or even microwave popcorn on command.

When we sit for a long period, our metabolism, blood flow and muscle activity all decrease. Blood pools in our legs, which can cause clots called deep vein thromboses. The unused muscles uptake less fuel from our blood, which can lead to poor glucose metabolism and higher insulin resistance, a harbinger of diabetes.

Sedentary behavior also has been linked to stiffening and injury of blood vessels, increased blood pressure and increased fat in the blood, all precursors of cardiovascular disease.

Sedentary Behavior And Heart Disease

We set out to understand how sedentary behavior is related to CVD in older women. This includes both how long they spent sedentary each day, and also the duration of their sedentary bouts.

Our findings suggest that both forms of sedentary behavior are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

The main results:

  1. Women with the highest total sedentary time had the highest risk for CVD. Each additional hour of sedentary time was associated with a 12 percent increase in CVD risk, and a 26 percent increase in risk for heart attacks.

  2. Women with shortest sedentary bouts had a 54 percent lower risk for CVD than women with the longest sedentary bouts. Regularly interrupting sitting can shorten sedentary bouts, and therefore might be a good habit to get into in order to reduce the chances of getting CVD.

We analyzed an ethnically diverse sample of 5,638 women from the Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health (OPACH) study. Since people often do a poor job of recalling how long they spend sitting, we asked women to wear small electronic devices engineered to measure movement, called accelerometers, to measure their sedentary time.

These devices revealed that OPACH women, who were on average 80 years old, sat for about 9.2 hours per day with a range of 3.3-14.1 hours a day. OPACH women were followed for up to five years for their first diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.

What’s Next In This Line Of Research?

Our study provides accelerometry-based evidence that sedentary behavior is an important factor in the cardiovascular health of older women.

Before the prevalent use of accelerometers, there were several reported associations between self-reports of sedentary behavior and CVD. Furthermore, evidence from human experiments has shown cardiovascular benefits to regularly breaking up sitting time. Taken together with results from our study, the evidence suggests that sedentary behavior may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.

We now need experiments to identify exactly what it is about sitting too much or sitting for too long that insults the cardiovascular system. We need larger experiments to investigate whether decreasing or regularly interrupting sedentary time will reduce cardiovascular diseases in older women and other population groups. One such large trial is the Women’s Health Initiative Strong and Healthy Study (WHISH), which is underway.

Though we researchers know that moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, such as exercise, is heart healthy, we need to know whether lower intensity physical activity also reduces risk. In our long term follow-up of OPACH women, we are studying whether standing is enough to improve health, or if both standing and movement are needed.

And finally, we need studies to answer the million dollar question: How long is too long to sit?

Given that CVD is the leading cause of death in the U.S., that up to 75 percent of CVD cases may be preventable, and that the majority of older adults’ waking day is spent sitting, it is crucial now more than ever to support research in the field to better understand the nature of these diseases, and develop robust lifestyle guidelines to reduce CVD.

What To Do In The Mean Time?

Given strong evidence that too much sitting is harmful, and that reducing sitting time comes at a low financial and health-related cost, we recommend, when possible, regularly replacing sitting with movement. To maximize the benefits, the more movement the better.

When sitting seems difficult to avoid, try to find creative ways to interrupt it. Opt for standing when watching TV, or maybe just during commercials. Take walks while talking on the phone. Pick up a new hobby that builds nonsedentary activities into your daily schedule, like gardening or yoga. You’ll automatically reduce the amount of time you’re sitting, and form healthy, enjoyable habits. When all else fails, just get up a little more often to take a bathroom break.

As the older adult population is one of the fastest growing segments in the U.S., and are also at highest risk for CVD and for sitting too much, sedentary behavior is one of the most important lifestyle habits to better understand so that we can help prevent heart disease and stroke.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, it’s time to stand up.The Conversation

Gautam Ramesh, Medical Student, University of California San Diego; Andrea LaCroix, Professor of Epidemiology, University of California San Diego, and John Bellettiere, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of California San Diego

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

See also:
How Optimizing Your Desk Job Can Lead To Short and Long-Term Health Benefits
Sitting Kills, Even If You Exercise

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

May 26, 2019

During the wee hours of the morning the Moon arrives in Pisces. Moods grow fickle and sensitivities increase. Imaginations are also fertile as a lunar sextile to Uranus implores and inspires curious souls to explore new horizons. The uneasy Last Quarter…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2019

Sunday afternoon: 3–4:30pm at Hillside Herbals Healing herbs for women's health part I: tonic herbs for hormonal balance—normal cycling and aging. Rachel has created a 10...

Cost: Drop in Fee $10 includes all materials and handouts.

Where:
Hillside Herbals
Jefferson, MA


Sponsor: Hillside Herbals
Telephone: 508-847-8615
Contact Name: Rachel Ross
Website »

More information

Sunday Reiki treatments with Reiki master and practitioner Linda Simons in Brookline, MA. Start your week off on a more balanced note with a Reiki treatment on a Sunday afternoon. Please join me...

Cost: Sliding Scale $25-45

Where:
233 Harvard Street
Suite 36
Brookline, MA  02446
View map »


Telephone: 617-304-2205
Contact Name: Linda Simons
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events
No Events

This is a light fun evening to help get you going into the summer season. This evening we will be discussing and working with Geraniums and Pelargoniums. We will be discussing the plants, their...

Cost: $ 20 includes material, pre-reg required

Where:
Brookside Farms
8 Mammoth Rd
Sute #A
Pelham, NH  03076
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Instructor: Pam Driscoll Wednesdays, April 17, May 8, 22, June 5, 19, 6:30pm–7:30pm Join us for the Mid-Week Meditation Sampler at Creative Spirit…an opportunity to pause,...

Cost: $20 per class

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Be An “Eat to Thrive” Graduate This Summer. Come to an introductory class for the summer session from June 6–August 15 in Point of Pines, Revere, MA. Congratulations to the...

Cost: Free—all are welcome!

Where:
Point of Pines
Revere, MA


Sponsor: Eat to Thrive
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Activists and artists will create inspiring chalk imagery encouraging kindness to animals On May 31, people around the world will gather to create colorful chalk imagery promoting compassion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Worcester City Common
Worcester, MA  01604


Telephone: 617-5430189
Contact Name: Melissa Scher
Website »

More information

Experience the process to a past life. Learn why it is beneficial and potentially: Clear emotional trauma and physical issues Calm feelings of stress and/or sadness Get insight into...

Cost: $50

Where:
Voice of Clay
16 Meetinghouse Hill Rd
Brookline , NH  03033
View map »


Sponsor: Voice of Clay
Telephone: 603-672-2626
Contact Name: Wendy
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

You do not need any musical background but please be sure to register early! Class is limited to 16 students. 6-hole flutes in G are provided for use during class. You are welcome to bring...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Learn an intro to the magick and science of dowsing. Tools, techniques for information, clearing, balancing, healing, and more. Bob will introduce you to dowsing and basic radiesthesia,...

Cost: Class is $45

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Suite #A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

In celebration of ushering in the Strawberry Moon Cycle and we will be doing a new moon planting. This is a great opportunity to literally sow the seeds for some of our other upcoming workshops...

Cost: Pre-reg $35, $40 at the door, materials included

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Sute #A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

June 1–2 Join other like-minded seekers as we take a journey through the concepts of the new Earth paradigm, higher self and soul sovereignty, ascension mechanics, and spiritual alchemy.

Where:
Chester, VT


Telephone: (617) 366-6042
Website »

More information

Using Lessons from Music to Harmonize Your Life You know how you want to show up in the world—expressing yourself through your essence, centered in your heart, effective in your life and...

Cost: $90 prepaid by May 30th, $100 at the door

Where:
Center at Westwoods
590 Gay Street
Westwoods, MA
View map »


Telephone: 617-784-4426
Contact Name: Janet Kessenich
Website »

More information

May 4–June 8, 2019 Saturdays 10am–11:30am Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) is a healing martial art using breath and movement. It is just one way to stay young and healthy. It...

Cost: $120

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags