The flurry of news and magazine articles last year proclaiming that "sitting is the new smoking" may have been a bit hyperbolic, but apparently there's at least 1 thing a sedentary lifestyle has in common with tobacco use: increased risk of heart failure in men, even with low to moderate exercise.
The conclusion is drawn from an article (abstract only available for free) recently published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and has received wide attention in newspapers and other media. The study focused on lifestyles of 84,170 men aged 45 to 69 and the incidence of heart failure (HF) over time. Researchers found that while high rates of physical activity did reduce risk of HF, low to moderate exercise had less of an impact on HF rates among men who also spent relatively long periods of time sitting.
The men in the study were divided according to a formula that assessed energy use relative to self-reported physical activity over 3 months, and sorted according to their estimations of daily time spent "watching television, sitting at a computer, or reading" outside of work. The sedentary rates were categorized as low (less than 2 hours a day), medium (3-4 hours a day), and high (more than 5 hours a day). Researchers also recorded other demographic and behavioral data, including ethnicity, alcohol consumption, education, income, and various health conditions at baseline.
Overall, researchers found that men who spend 5 or more hours a day sitting were 34% more likely to develop HF than men who sit less than 2 hours a day outside work. Additionally, the increased risk linked to sitting was not eliminated by low to medium levels of physical activity. "Our results strengthen the developing position that too much sitting is detrimental to cardiovascular health, independent of regular physical activity," authors wrote.
You can share information with your patients and clients on the negative impacts too much sedentary time by connecting them to the APTA MoveForward webpage on sitting.
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