Prolonged Sitting Removes The Beneficial Effects Exercise Has On Cardiovascular Health
July 8, 2014

Prolonged Sitting Removes The Beneficial Effects Exercise Has On Cardiovascular Health

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

As we have become a more technological society, we have also become a more sedentary society. We already know that this is one of the major causes of obesity, but it affects our bodies in many other ways.

Among these, a new study from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center reveals that a sedentary lifestyle lowers cardiorespiratory fitness levels. The findings, published online in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, noted that two hours of sedentary behavior can be as harmful as 20 minutes of exercise is beneficial.

The research team examined the association between fitness levels, daily exercise and sedentary behaviors. The data analyzed were collected from 2,223 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is an ongoing series of studies conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NHANES data is representative of the US population.

A sedentary lifestyle consists of very low energy activities including driving, sitting, watching TV and reading. The research team says that their analysis shows that sedentary behaviors such as these may be important determinants of cardorespiratory fitness, independent of exercise.

"Previous studies have reported that sedentary behavior was associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular outcomes; however, the mechanisms through which this occurs are not completely understood," said Dr. Jarett Berry, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Science. "Our data suggest that sedentary behavior may increase risk through an impact on lower fitness levels, and that avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day may represent an important companion strategy to improve fitness and health, outside of regular exercise activity."

Accelerometer data from both men and women between the ages of 12 and 49 who had no known history of heart disease, asthma, or stroke was analyzed by the team. The researchers also measured the average daily physical activity and sedentary behavior times of the participants. Using a submaximal treadmill, and adjusting for variables such as gender, age, and body mass index (BMI), the researchers measured participant fitness levels. Their findings indicate that the negative effects of six hours of sedentary behavior was similar in magnitude to the benefits gained from one hour of exercise.

"We also found that when sitting for prolonged periods of time, any movement is good movement, and was also associated with better fitness," said Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski, a recent graduate from the UT Southwestern Cardiology Fellowship Training Program. "So if you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call, or even fidget."

Preventative cardiologists at UT Southwestern recommend short walks during lunch and throughout the day to stay active and combat the negative effects of sedentary behavior. They suggest using a pedometer to track daily steps, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, hosting walking meetings at work, and replacing a standard desk chair with a fitness ball or even a treadmill desk.


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