Stand Up For Your Heart Health
James H. O'Keefe, M.D.
A new study just released in March 2015 adds yet another reason to stand up for your heart health, literally!
This study is from scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin and tracked the activity levels of 2,031 adults whose average age was 50.
Researchers compared the number of hours each participant spent sitting down each day with the levels of deposits in their blood vessels. These deposits act as a signal for heart disease.
The participants spent between two to 12 hours a day sitting at the office or in front of the television. The researchers concluded that for every hour spent sitting, the levels of deposit rose by 14 percent. The studyís lead researcher advised that adults with office jobs should go for a walk every hour, concluding that reducing the amount of time you sit by even an hour or two a day could have a significant and positive impact on cardiovascular health.
This study agrees with research previously published in the British Medical Journal in July 2012. This study followed 167,000 people for about a decade. It concluded that even if you exercise daily and donít smoke, a habit of prolonged sitting every day could shave about two years off your life expectancy.
Thatís because several hours of physical inactivity can cause an immediate drop in the levels of an enzyme that clears fat from the bloodstream, which causes the blood levels of triglycerides (fats) to rise, in turn triggering a surge in free radicals that cause inflammation and dysfunction in the brain, heart, blood vessels, and liver.
In essence, too much sitting results in inflammation throughout your system, and eventually increases risks for obesity, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and Alzheimerís dementia.
Standing or Strolling Helps Your Heart
Sitting for long periods of time causes problems even for those who exercise regularly. An eight-year study that followed a quarter-million American adults correlated daily activity levels with long-term general health. One of the best predictors of survival and overall health was the amount of physical activity participants did on a daily basis: the more the better.
Regular physical exercise somewhat diminished the health and mortality risks caused by prolonged sitting. But even those who exercised for seven hours or more a week, yet spent at least seven hours a day in front of the television, were more likely to die prematurely than the people who exercised at least seven hours weekly and watched less than an hour of television daily.
In other words, itís not enough to just get your 30 minutes of physical activity during the day. You should try to be on your feet and moving as often as you can, even if at a slow pace. Admittedly it can be difficult to stand while you do your job, especially if you have a desk job, work on a computer, or drive a vehicle.
But the research shows if you are generally sitting for hours at a time, simply standing or strolling for a couple of minutes every 20 minutes will burn hundreds of extra calories over the course of a day, lower your levels of blood sugar and insulin, and reduce inflammation in your system.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we would all be better off if we made it a priority to move more often throughout the day, even if only to stand up for a few minutes at a time. Less sitting also will boost your mood, and help ensure that your brain stays sharp for decades to come.
So why are you still sitting there? Itís spring and gorgeous out! Stand up, take a quick walk, not just today, but every day you can, and get healthy!
Dr. OíKeefe is a cardiologist with Saint Lukeís Cardiovascular Consultants, located in Leeís Summit at 20 N.E. Saint Lukeís Blvd., Suite 110, 816-931-1883. Also read Dr. OíKeefeís newsletter, For the Heart, online visit: http://www.saintlukeshealthsystem.org/saint-lukes-cardiovascular-consultants-newsletter.