Health Tips Column, M A Jafar
Extended sitting worsens well being for coronary heart illness sufferers
There is increasing evidence that sitting for long periods is bad for health, regardless of whether a person exercises. Now, a new study finds sedentary behavior may worsen the health of individuals who already have heart disease, even if they are active.
Researchers found prolonged sitting was linked to higher BMI and lower cardiorespiratory fitness in patients with heart disease.
The research – led by Dr. Stephanie Prince of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in Canada – was recently published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention.
Studies show that we spend around 7.7 hours a day sitting down, which can have severe consequences for health, including increased risk of , and . Recent studies have shown sedentary behavior may even worsens well being.
What is more, some studies have suggested that regular exercise may not counteract the negative health effects associated with sedentary behavior.
But what about individuals who already have certain health conditions? Does prolonged sitting worsen their health? And if so, does exercise offset such effects? This is what Dr. Prince and colleagues wanted to find out.
Exercise does not reduce sitting risks for heart disease patients
For their study, the team enrolled 278 patients with (CHD) – the most common form of heart disease and a leading cause of death for men and women in the US.
All participants had completed a cardiac rehabilitation program, which showed them how to increase physical activity levels.
Importantly, the researchers found that subjects who spent more time sitting had higher BMI and lower cardiorespiratory fitness – determined by maximal oxygen consumption, or VO2 peak.
What is more, these findings remained regardless of participants’ age, gender or how much time they spent exercising. “In other words, people who sat for longer periods were heavier and less fit regardless of how much they exercised,” says Dr. Prince.
The team says their findings emphasize the importance of reducing the amount of time we spend sitting down. Dr. Prince says:
“Limiting the amount of time we spend sitting may be as important as the amount we exercise. Sitting, watching TV, working at a computer and driving in a car are all sedentary behaviors and we need to take breaks from them.”
Dr. Prince suggests that information on how to reduce sedentary behavior may benefit heart disease patients taking part in cardiac rehabilitation programs.