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Fitness activity does not cancel the negative impact of sedentary lifestyle

Harold Mandel's picture
Heart health

According to a science advisory from the American Heart Association being sedentary is not simply a lack of getting exercise, it is also a potentially independent risk factor for stroke and heart disease.


If you want to maintain a naturally healthy heart you should strive to stay active. According to the American Heart Association it is vitally important to spend less time sitting around and more time being active because heart attack risk is increased by sedentary time. In fact even in people who are active physically there may be an association between sedentary time and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.

Sedentary behavior is an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke

According to a science advisory which has been released by the American Heart Association there is more than just a lack of exercise linked to being sedentary, this is also possibly an independent risk factor for having heart disease and stroke. Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., who is the director of behavioral research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena and chair of the new scientific statement which has been published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, says that extended sedentary time may have a negative impact on the health of your heart and blood vessels regardless of how much physical activity you get.

Spend less time sitting and more time being active

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It has been included in the statement that there is an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, impaired sensitivity to insulin which is linked to diabetes, and overall increased risk of death from any cause associated with being sedentary. Although actual cause and effect between sedentary behavior and these health problems is not clear at this time Young says it is advisable to spend less time sitting and more time being active.

The researchers have recommended that Americans reach for a goal of at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily in order to meet the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Young says the goal now is to encourage activity which is more consistent instead of doing all of the recommended exercise in one or two days in order to strive to stay healthy naturally.

Physical activity does not cancel the negative impact of sedentary behavior

It is of great significance that the researchers have discovered that the negative impact of sedentary time is not cancelled out by moderate to vigorous physical activity. There seems to be an increased risk for illness and death in people who are physically active but who nevertheless spend a great deal of time being sedentary. Simply sitting around, laying down while awake, working on a computer or watching television are all considered sedentary behaviors.

It has been estimated that most adults in the United States are sedentary for approximately six to eight hours daily. There is between 8.5 to 9.6 hours a day spent sedentary by adults who are 60 years and older. Even light housework or leisurely walking around has more expenditure of energy than being sedentary for too long. Any type of activity is preferable over being sedentary for too long.

It is clear from the evidence that there is an association between all-cause and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality with increased sedentary behavior. The evidence has been so compelling that some countries have spread out broad guidelines among the public which recommend decreasing sedentary behaviors. Therefore it's clearly wise to nurture a mindset that encourages being active while also avoiding being sedentary for too long daily in order to help you reach for good health naturally.