This common habit could take years off your life

By: Bel Marra Health | General Health | Monday, September 12, 2016 - 08:00 AM

Senior couple sitting on couchWhen it comes to bad habits that have a negative impact on your heart, you probably think of smoking, drinking, and eating poorly. Of course, these aren’t elements of a healthy lifestyle by any measure, and they can contribute to shorter lifespan indeed, but there is another daily habit that could be sending you to an early grave, researchers suggest.

Sitting leads to premature death

More and more people are living a sedentary lifestyle, meaning, they are sitting for prolonged periods of time. As of late, a number of studies have revealed the detrimental effects of sitting on your health – including the increased risk of premature death.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much research on how much exercise is enough to help combat the sitting problem, so experts are simply advising that you sit less and move more.

Team leader Deborah Rohm Young said, “The evidence to date is suggestive, but not conclusive, that sedentary behavior contributes to cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk. Given the current state of the science on sedentary behavior and in the absence of sufficient data to recommend quantitative guidelines, it is appropriate to promote the advisory, ‘Sit less, move more’.”

The recommended daily physical activity is at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise – this includes brisk walking, not just moving around the house. It’s also important that desk-job workers take time throughout their day to get moving to help negate the effects of prolonged sitting.

Young continued, “Regardless of how much physical activity someone gets, prolonged sedentary time could negatively impact the health of your heart and blood vessels. There are many important factors we don’t understand about sedentary time yet. The types of studies available identify trends but don’t prove cause and effects.”

“Based on existing evidence, we found that U.S. adults are sedentary for about six to eight hours a day. Adults 60 years and older spend between 8.5 — 9.6 hours a day in sedentary time,” Young explained.

Previous studies have found that back in the 1960s nearly half of occupations required physical movement. In today’s day and age, less than 20 percent require physical activity.

Young’s team wrote in the journal Circulation, “There are clearly physiological changes that occur when physically active individuals become inactive. Despite these potentially relevant findings on how physical inactivity can be associated with biological dysregulation, we do not have direct evidence that this leads to cardiovascular disease.”

The take-home message here is, even though it’s hard to recommend set guidelines to protect your heart and extend your life, the general rule is to sit the least amount of time possible to ensure you stay healthy.

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