Don't just sit there! No; really. Don't just sit there because sitting can increase the risk of heart failure, especially for men ages 45 to 69 who sit too much. And while only men were involved in this study we're about to discuss, researchers agree that the results would probably be the same for women.
The study included more than 82,000 men—none of whom had heart failure at the beginning of the study—and were followed for up to a decade. The study determined that those spending more time being sedentary outside of work hours—more than five hours—had a higher risk for heart failure.
Deborah Rohm Young, a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California, one of the researchers who conducted the study, pointed out, “Men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men with higher levels of physical activity.” However, the risk was lowest for men who exercised the most and sat for fewer than two hours a day. Interestingly, even men who had hypertension and coronary artery disease who exercised regularly and sat less had lower levels of heart failure. Young points out that the results most likely would be the same for women.
The study was recently published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Heart Failure.
But just what is heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure? For starters, it’s not that the heart fails to beat. Instead, it’s the inability of the heart muscle to effectively pump blood throughout the body and is marked by fatigue and shortness of breath. Young further explains, “If affects a lot of people. Of those who have heart failure, about half will die within five years of being diagnosed. But it is associated with a reduced quality of life.”
Sitting too much, also known as “sitting disease,” is already linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, death from cancer, heart disease and stroke. It is also implicated in adversely affecting mood and creativity.
Unfortunately, many people have jobs, long commutes or other travel obligations that require sitting for extended periods of time. Likewise, statistics indicate that almost half of people say they sit more than six hours daily, while 65 percent admit to spending more than two hours a day watching TV.
That’s where exercise can come in. A good guideline is to get up and move 10 minutes out of every hour spent sitting. Walking can be a great way to move more—about 30 minutes of brisk walking each day.
In fact, exercise can not only help avoid heart failure, but it is also often noted as having therapeutic benefits to those with heart failure, says one doctor.
So, don’t just sit there! Move. Otherwise, you could be sitting duck for heart failure and more.