While regular exercise is recommended for everyone in order to lower the risk of heart and weight related diseases it just might not be enough. A group of leading cardiologists have warned that even with regular exercise sitting too much can still have negative effects linked to the health of the heart.
The statement was made my by the American Heart Association (AHA). Researchers say that people are spending too much time sitting. Deborah Roham Young, chair of the AHA panel that wrote the new advisory, said that existing evidence shows that U.S adults remain sedentary for approximately 6 to 8 hours daily. She went on to say that the time of remaining in a sedentary state increases with age. Adults who were 60 years of age and older tend to spend an average of 8.5 to 9.6 hours per day in sedentary time.
The new statement by the AHA, published in the journal Circulation, is due to the fact that there is growing evidence that shows that only exercise isn’t a strong enough factor that can counter the negative side effects of sitting too much. Even with the recommended 30 minutes of exercise sitting continuously for hours can still lead to heart disease and negatively impact blood vessels.
The AHA also added that sitting can also be associated with an increased risk of diabetes, impaired insulin sensitivity and even a higher risk of death due to such diseases. However, the exact mechanisms behind sitting too much and the negative impacts on one’s health aren’t clear yet. The current studies show trends but they don’t necessarily deliver cause-and-effect. Regardless, individuals are advised to take preventive measures by sitting less and moving more.
The new stance by the AHA has received support from other heart specialists. Dr. Barbara George, the director of the Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola (N.Y), said that individuals need to move more and sit less to lower the risks of cardiovascular disease. She further stated that, “All studies are indicating that moving more throughout the day — in addition to getting the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity on a daily basis — is necessary to lower one’s risk of heart disease and other causes of mortality.”
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City also agreed. She said that based on the evidence sitting is more than just a “lack of moving.” She said that the real risk has to do with the amount a person sits. “Our lives have become focused around activities requiring us to be still — whether it be commuting or transportation, our computers, or the television or computer in our leisure time. Sociologically, instead of being active to be productive or to have enjoyment, our productivity and fun often requires minimal exertion,” said Dr. Steinbaum.
But the question that arises has to do with how much is a person supposed to move? According to the AHA, human beings should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on a daily basis. This will allow them to reach the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise or even 75 minutes of vigorous exercise in a week. It is advised to exercise daily rather than trying to make up for lost time and exercising for more minutes a couple of days per week.
“There’s a lot of research that we need to do,” Young said. “This statement is important because it starts the ball rolling and suggests sedentary behavior may play an important role in heart health and more. But, it’s too early to make conclusive recommendations other than to encourage Americans to ‘sit less, move more.”
It is being advised that people should try and add in more standing or physical activity in their daily routines rather than sit. Individuals can talk on their phones while standing, exercise while watching TV, stand while taking the subway, and take a few minutes of break to walk around after working for half an hour on their computers.