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redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Spending long hours sitting on the job has already been established as a potential health hazard, but now medical experts are saying that it could be as harmful to a person’s overall welfare as smoking cigarettes.
According to a special report by CBS New York, published research has already linked prolonged period of sitting to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and premature death. But is it as hazardous to your health as smoking?
“Smoking certainly is a major cardiovascular risk factor, and sitting can be equivalent in many cases,” explained Dr. David Coven, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. “The fact of being sedentary causes factors to happen in the body that are very detrimental.”
The answer, recent studies have suggested, is to become more physically active. Exercising more and sitting less were positively linked to improved overall health and quality of life, but it can be difficult to be adequately active when a person has to be parked at a desk or in front of a computer for eight or more hours per day.
Fortunately, Dr. Dermont Phelan of the Cleveland Clinic said that being active doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has “to go to the gym for 30 minutes in the day.” Instead, just taking “a brisk walk” for about “10 minutes three times a day” is sufficient.
“While not an equal substitute for exercise, some doctors recommend getting up once an hour from your desk, even if it’s just to walk around briefly or go to the bathroom,” CBS New York said. “Some people have even started using combination treadmill desks at work — anything that contracts our muscles and gets blood flowing.”
However, research published Tuesday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure suggests that even men who exercise regularly experienced an increased risk of heart failure if they spend long periods of time sitting.
This finding, lead researcher and Kaiser Permanente scientist Dr. Deborah Rohm Young and her colleagues reported, suggests that both high levels of physical activity and low levels of sedentary time were required to remain healthy.
Dr. Young’s team followed a group of over 84,000 males between the ages of 45 and 69, and found that men with lower levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure than those with high physical activity levels, even after adjusting for differences in sedentary time.
“Outside of work, men who spent five or more hours a day sitting were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised,” the American Heart Association said in a statement. “Heart failure risk more than doubled in men who sat for at least five hours a day and got little exercise compared to men who were very physically active and sat for two hours or less a day.”
Similarly, in February 2013, research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that the more time a person spent in the seated position, the higher risk they faced of developing a chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure.
In that study, researchers from Kansas State University and the University of Western Sydney looked at over 63,000 Australian men between the ages of 45 and 65 years old. The study participants answered questions about any existing chronic diseases and reported their daily sitting time, and were then divided into four different categories based on the number of time they were sedentary during an average day.
Those who reported sitting for less than four hours per day were found to be no more likely to develop a chronic disease, but the risk rate increased in correlation with the amount of time spent sitting, the study found. Those who sat for eight hours or more on a daily basis were the most likely to develop a chronic disease.