Prolonged sitting may put you at risk of developing heart disease
Yes, you read right… sitting for more than 10 hours in a day can put you at risk of developing heart disease. If you are the average city dweller, you leave home early, sit in traffic for long hours, get to work, sit at your desk all day, then after sitting in traffic all day, we get home and sit in front of the TV to watch our favorite show or sports, we then go to bed and repeat the same thing the next day! Many of us exercise for 30-45 minutes in the day, but are sedentary for the rest of the day, thinking the work out is enough activity for the day… This is far from correct.
One of the biggest studies done on the dangers of extended periods of sitting was done by researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Leicester (a public research university in the UK) in 2011. It involved 800,000 people and found that those who sat the most had an increase in the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, death caused by cardiovascular disease as well as from any other cause.
Researchers also found that individuals who spend 5 or more hours a day sitting were more likely to develop heart failure than those who sit less than 2 hours a day.
The message from all this research is that physical activity is healthier than sitting. That doesn’t mean you have to spend several hours a day exercising. Just taking breaks from sitting; by standing up and pacing or taking a short walk; might also lower sitting-associated heart risk. In effect, the more standing and walking you do, the better.
How does sitting affect the body?
Excessive sitting slows the metabolism, burning approximately 50 fewer calories per hour than when you are standing. This reduces your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and metabolize fat, as well as causing weaker muscles and bones.
Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly when we sit for a long time, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart. Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease.
According to the American Heart Association, there’s a theory that: not using the muscles enough (especially when you are always seated) can lead to abnormal blood fat levels. This occurs through the suppression of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. Lipoprotein lipase converts “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterol, among other functions. Suppression of this enzyme causes an increase in “bad” cholesterol levels.
Read Also: How lack of sleep is making you fat
How to increase our daily activity:
It has been suggested that getting up every hour to stand or walk around would help to counter the ill effects of prolonged sitting.
Watch less television. Replace TV time with fun activities that get you moving, like playing with the children or family pet and doing light house chores. If you want to watch the TV, you can hide the remote control so you have to get up to change the channel.
Set a one-hour timer when you sit down to relax. Get up and move around for at least 10 minutes when it goes off. Many of the smart watches these days have this function.
Consider working at a stand-up desk. Standing beats sitting any day.
Take at least two walks a day. A new study from the George Washington University Medical Center suggests that brief walks after meals are better for keeping blood sugar in check than one longer walk each day.
Start a walking group. You’ll be more active, and you’ll also socialize, which is good for your mental health.
Dr Monisola Adanijo FMCP a Cardiologist and the Medical Director at Naveen Healthcare.
With experience spanning over 20 years, she built her pathway in medicine and cardiology working in reputable medical centres such as Mecure Healthcare Limited, Barnes Hospital, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Chevron Hospital, Lagos to mention but a few.
Her passion for preventive cardiology led her to convene the Naveen Healthcare 10,000 Hearts Project, in order to help individuals detect, protect and correct cardiovascular diseases.
Skilled in cardiovascular diagnostic procedures and treatment, a fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, a member of Nigerian Cardiac Society, American College of Physicians, Hypertension society of Nigeria and an international associate of the American College of Cardiology. She also has a Diploma in Leadership and Management from the University of Washington, USA,
As a Continuous Medical Education (CME) provider, she has worked with the likes of Trigen Healthcare Solutions, Pfizer GP Academy, Diamond Helix Medical Assistance, Pfizer Pharmacy Academy, Global Health Project and Resources, Sanofi-Aventis Nigeria, Novartis Nigeria and Servier International. She has helped build capacity in Electrocardiogram interpretation, preventive cardiovascular diseases, management of heart failure, patient education and more.
She launched the first TeleElectrocardiogram project in Nigeria and West Africa and does her part in contributing to good health and wellbeing, a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3) of the United Nations.
Linkedin: Monisola Adanijo