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Prolonged Sitting Deadly to the Heart

New research has revealed the unexpected dangers that many individuals may risk by sitting at work. When compared with those who do not spend the majority of their time at work seated, those who do sit often increase risk of death by cardiovascular disease by one third.

Researchers are saying that one way to avoid alleviate these potential deadly risks involves taking breaks throughout the day from sitting and incorporating occasional leisure-time activity. The authors of the research, headed by Wayne Gao, PhD, with Taipei Medical University College of Public Health, have stated that due to our “modern lifestyles, prolonged occupational sitting is considered normal and has not received due attention, even though its deleterious effect on health outcomes has been demonstrated.”.

The crucial role of physical activity is emphasized by Michelle Bloom, MD, director of the cardio-oncology program at NYU Langone health, as reported by theheart.org via Medscape Cardiology. As a cardiologist, Bloom stated that she speaks about this issue with every patient, regardless of the reason for their visit. Bloom further explained the reasoning for this choice saying that “patients respond better when their doctor says it than when they just kind of know it in the back of their mind.”.

For the first time, the World Health Organization’s physical activity guidelines for 2020 called for a decrease in sedentary behaviour due to its negative effects on health. The precise relationship between extended occupational sitting and health outcomes is less understood, particularly in the setting of low physical activity.

In order to assess whether a particular level of physical activity could mitigate the health hazards linked to extended periods of sitting at work, Gao and colleagues conducted a study in which they calculated such risks.

481,688 persons (mean age, 39 years; 53% women) participated in a Taiwanese health surveillance program. Information was gathered about lifestyle choices, physical activity during leisure time, occupational sitting, and metabolic markers.

26,257 participants died over an average follow-up of approximately 13 years; the majority of these deaths (57%) happened to people who spent most of their time sitting at work. Of the 5371 deaths linked to CVD, 60% happened in the mostly sedentary group.

Adults who mostly sat at work had a 16% higher risk of dying of any cause and a 34% higher risk of dying of CVD compared with those who did not mostly sit at work, according to multivariate analysis that controlled for sex, age, education, smoking, drinking, and body mass index.

Compared to people who mostly did not sit at work, adults who alternated between sitting and not sitting at work were not at higher risk of dying from any cause.

The risk of death was reduced to a level comparable to inactive people who primarily do not sit at work by increasing exercise by 15 and 30 minutes per day, respectively, among adults who generally sat at work and engaged in low (15-29 minutes) or no (< 15 minutes) daily leisure-time activity.

In the study, the researchers wrote that “Overall, our findings from a large prospective cohort help to strengthen the increasingly accumulating evidence linking a sedentary lifestyle and health risks,”. Systemic changes like frequent break, designated workplace areas for physical activity, standing desks, and gym membership benefits can help mitigate these risks.

Anu Lala, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital in New York, was asked for a comment on the matter. She stated that the study offers a “simple yet profound message” on the risks associated with extended sitting.

“Pretty remarkable” is the result that, after controlling for main risk variables, individuals who spent most of their workday sitting down had a 16% higher all-cause mortality. And “it’s double that for death from CVD,” Lala said to theheart.org via Medscape Cardiology.

Lala continued, saying that she believes that despite how basic movement is, we underestimate its significance. Standing up and squatting are two easy exercises that are good for your heart.

According to Bloom, workers don’t have to go out and run a marathon to see the benefits. She encourages office workers to “Just get up a few times a day, walk a few laps in your office, walk back and forth from the mailbox, walk up and down your steps a couple of times — just do something more than you’re doing already.”.


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