Sitting like this is bad for your heart

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Heart Health | Monday, December 22, 2014 - 05:00 AM

heart, blood pressureYou eat fairly healthy, you exercise and you even get ample amount of sleep most nights. But chances are that you’ve got a daily habit that isn’t doing your body any favors – and you don’t even know it.

Are you sitting down for this?

Crossing your legs is hurting your heart.

More specifically, sitting with your legs crossed at the knee can increase your blood pressure, according to a new study published in Blood Pressure Monitoring. It suggests that leg crossing increases blood pressure by as much as 7 percent.

Added stress puts you at risk

What’s more, the frequent crossing of your legs places stress on your hip joints, which causes pooling of blood in your legs whenever your veins are compressed. This could make the veins in your lower legs more susceptible to inflammation – and possibly cause blood clots, which isn’t good! Blood clots put you at risk for heart attack.

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When it comes to your heart health, crossing your legs is dangerous. Other common habits on the not-to-do list include slouching, standing with locked knees, sleeping on your stomach, wearing your belt too tight, driving long distances without a break, carrying a shoulder bag for too long, stretching as soon as you get up, and, yes, holding off using the restroom when you need to most.

Sitting for long periods isn’t great for your health at the best of times. Our bodies are not made for this kind of stasis which prevents proper blood flow. Sitting becomes worse for the body when your posture is lacking or your feet hang unsupported, or your arms are flat on the arm rests but the rests themselves don’t have the best cushioning or support.

Change your sitting position

Generally speaking, blood vessels – or arteries – from your heart to the body rely on a healthy heart to pump blood all the way down to your feet. Your veins, on the other hand, use your weaker calf muscles to push blood all the way back up again.

To stop gravity from taking blood back down to the feet, veins also have tiny valves which catch the blood as your leg muscles pump it up. But the weight of one leg on the other squashes these tiny veins in your legs.

Basically, your body needs these veins completely wide open. This ensures that the blood is pumped back to your heart. Otherwise, blood pools in your feet and calves, which then stretches the veins. In other words, crossing your legs makes your veins work way too hard and can cause irrevocable damage.

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It’s worth noting that this habit can injure your spine, too. That’s because changes to your spinal curves cause what’s described as an altered load bearing to the joints. This raises the risk of wear and tear, not to mention some pain and inflammation.

Tips to mind your blood pressure and protect your heart

So what can you do about lowering your blood pressure and improving your heart health? Well, for one thing, avoid crossing your legs for longer than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Try to get up and walk around now and again, every 30 minutes or so.

Whenever you cross your legs – for good appearances – remember that doing so at the ankles is more ideal, and anything higher than that brings on long-term damage. Also, be sure to switch up your legs consistently so that you don’t always have the same leg on top.

There’s no reason why you can’t be comfortable and well-poised – and be good to your heart at the same time.

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