Don't Just Sit There—Your Heart Will Thank You for It
Being sedentary for long uninterrupted periods throughout the day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, a federally funded study of older women, published in Circulation earlier this year, has confirmed.
The study involved 5,638 women, ages 63 to 97, who initially wore devices that measured their movement, along with the duration of individual bouts of sedentary time, for a week. The researchers found that over the next three to five years, both the total amount of daily sedentary time and longer uninterrupted bouts of it were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (notably heart attacks and strokes).
The risk was lower when sedentary time was interrupted by physical activity. The association held up regardless of the women's overall health, fitness, diet, weight, and other cardiovascular risk factors, as well as whether they engaged in moderate or vigorous exercise. Other studies have produced similar findings—for men and women.
Recently updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also stress that any increase in physical activity fights disease, especially if you are currently sedentary. The guidelines were published in 2018 in JAMA.
The take-home message from a growing body of research is this: Get off the sofa—simply sitting less and moving more can help lead you to better health.