Haims: Desk jobs and sitting too long may lead to cardiovascular disease￼
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes are on the rise. Although some people may be predisposed, many people have the ability to reduce their risk. CVD is a major concern as current data suggests that an incident of CVD occurs in the United States about every 40 seconds.
Prevention of CVD is well-researched and education about prevention can be found almost everywhere. Generally, research and data state that the best methods of prevention include not smoking, eating a healthy diet, frequent exercise, managing one’s weight, and managing high blood pressure and cholesterol.
There is new research that shows that sedentary lifestyles are contributing to the risk factors of heart disease. Yes, desk jobs are not only painstaking, but they are contributing to people’s risk of CVD.
In the U.S., some of the leading heart research and medical facilities include the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Cedars-Sinai, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and Johns Hopkins. Within the last couple of years, all of these institutions have provided research about the harm associated with sedentary lifestyles. Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyles and CVD risks are not isolated to those with desk jobs and the elderly. Sedentary activities are affecting our children as the amount of time spent playing computer games, sitting while using social media, and watching TV has dramatically increased since we were children.
A study of more than 100,000 people from 21 countries conducted from 2003 to 2021 found that extended sitting times were associated with an increased risk of mortality and CVD. Data suggests that people who sat for six to eight hours a day had an estimated 20% increased risk for heart disease and a 12% increased risk for death.
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It should not be counterintuitive to consider that sitting for long periods of time is less than healthy. For decades, researchers have been providing vast amounts of data proving the health benefits of daily exercise. Mitigating all the associated risks of CVD may be as simple as taking a 5-minute “exercise snack” for every 30 minutes of sitting.
Suggestions for taking a break:
- Set a reminder: Use a smartphone or any type of timer to remind you to get out of your chair and take a walk every 30 minutes – anywhere.
- Set goals to reduce how long you sit.
- Stand: Standing activates muscles far more than sitting and requires more effort than sitting.
- Walk and talk: Try utilizing a headset while on the phone and walk around the office or, if possible, outside.
For people who sit for long periods of time, there are other ramifications than just CVD. When people sit for extended periods of time, our bones get weaker, which may affect our whole skeletal system and often has an association with back pain. Also, our ability to process fats within our body decreases.
I spend too much of my day in a chair and understand more than many people the harm to my health this may cause. If you too spend excessive time seated, make an effort to get up and move for at least a few minutes every half hour or so.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and available to answer questions. His contact information is VisitingAngels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.