Heart Association Warns About Risks of Sitting Too Much

The American Heart Association says that sedentary behavior is risky and could lead to major cardiovascular problems down the line. The association adds that exercise on its own won't offset the negative health effects of sitting for long periods.

Are you sitting down? Well … the American Heart Association says that’s a bad idea.

In fact, you may want to get a treadmill desk.

This week, AHA released a science advisory warning that sedentary behavior can cause cardiovascular problems no matter how much exercise you do to offset the behavior. That last finding—that exercise doesn’t have any bearing on how sitting negatively affects cardiovascular health—is a big shift in how the issue has been perceived in the medical community.

Deborah Rohm Young, the chair of the AHA panel that wrote the advisory, noted that recent shifts in behavior, such as the common use of computers while sitting down, are contributing to the problem. Nowadays, the average young adult spends between six and eight hours a day being sedentary—a level that increases the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and death. People over the age of 60 sit around even longer: between 8.6 and 9.6 hours per day.

“If you’re already physically active, that’s the most important thing. But it’s good to take breaks from sedentary time, too,” Young said in a news release. “Instead of powering through your work from the minute you get into the office until lunch break, consider walking around the office a couple of times.”

While AHA finds sitting problematic, it says more research needs to be done to figure out exactly how much sitting time is safe.

“I’d put the challenge to physical activity researchers to expand and consider a new field of research on sedentary behavior,” Young added.

The association is maintaining its current recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

AHA’s stance on sedentary behavior is just the latest from the scientific world. Another recent study on the issue was slightly more positive about the value of exercise in battling sedentary behavior.

The meta-analysis, published in The Lancet, suggested that people who exercised an hour a day were able to offset some of the negative effects caused by sitting for long periods.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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