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Researchers Discover the Point at Which Maximum Sitting Time Starts to Harm Your Heart

By maggiemay at July 21, 2016, 10:14 a.m., 14265 hits

by Bob Yirka

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the U.S. has discovered what they claim is the maximum amount of time a person can sit on average per day before it starts to damage their heart. In their paper published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, the team describes how they conducted a detailed analysis of patient data from two major medical databases covering a period of eleven years, what they found, and what they believe it means for people who sit for many hours every day.

One of the benefits of modern living is that very few people now have jobs that are physically taxing—many actually spend most of their working hours sitting at a desk. But this lack of physical activity has been found to be hazardous to our health. Obesity is at very high levels, as is heart disease and other ailments tied to both inactivity and over eating. But, just how long can a person sit each day before they are actually causing harm to their heart? Until now, medical science did not have an answer. To find out, the researchers turned to data in the EMBASE and MEDLINE databases looking for an association between sedentary time and incidences of cardiovascular disease. Among 700,000 patients identified, they found 25,769 unique events.

In studying the data the researchers found that the cutoff maximum appeared to be sitting for 12 hours on average every day—such people, the researchers found, were 14 percent more likely to have heart problems than people who sat only 2.5 hours on average each day. The researchers defined sitting as being sedentary, which includes lying down. They noted that an increased risk of cardiac problems began to be noticeable in people who were sedentary for 10 hours a day, which suggests the problem is likely very widespread. Office workers, for example, may sit down at work for seven hours a day, sit down for an hour at lunch and then again while driving for an hour and then once home sit down while watching TV, eating dinner, getting online or playing video games for a few more hours. That alone is enough to put them in the risk category.

What is still not known is whether exercise in-between bouts of sitting are able to offset the associated heart problems—if someone jogs every morning, for example, does that reduce the risk of heart problems if they sit for 12 hours otherwise? The researchers suggest some people could reduce their risk by using stand-up workstations or other office options that allow occasional activity.

More information: Ambarish Pandey et al. Continuous Dose-Response Association Between Sedentary Time and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease, JAMA Cardiology (2016). DOI: 10.1001/jamacardio.2016.1567

Journal reference: JAMA Cardiology

— Last Edited by Dixie at 2016-07-21 23:22:35 —

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