Sitting for long periods of time affects heart health! What solutions are there depending on age


The health benefits of physical activity are, of course, indisputable, but scientists have found that in older adults, reducing the amount of time they spend sitting by at least 30 minutes a day can lower blood pressure. arterial. Adults who work from the office and spend many hours a day in a chair can also have health problems. Metabolism, glucose, muscle tone, bones and the cardiovascular system are all affected by prolonged sitting. There are solutions for any age:

Physical activity during working hours may seem like a challenge, but there are solutionsPhoto: © Monkey Business Images |

Less inactivity, more health

In a recent Kaiser Permanente study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers wanted to find out if sitting less can reduce blood pressure in older adults.

The study included 283 people between the ages of 60 and 89 who had a body mass index between 30 and 50. During it, the subjects reduced their level of inactivity by about 30 minutes a day, which led to a drop in their blood pressure of almost 3.5 mmHg. The researchers noted that this drop in blood pressure was comparable to the 4 mmHg reduction found in studies examining increased physical activity to lower blood pressure. The scientists explained that the reduction in blood pressure was possible as a result of the improvement in blood flow. Blood flow which in turn improved due to the fact that the arteries were no longer held in a bent position for long periods of time.

Being inactive during the day, spending most hours in a sitting position, is associated with significant health risks, such as heart disease and diabetes. Conversely, decreasing the amount of time a person is inactive has been shown to improve overall health. Dr. Christopher Tanayan, a sports cardiologist affiliated with Northwell Health in New York, pointed out that a reduction in sitting time is beneficial for blood flow, from a cardiovascular perspective, but also for musculoskeletal issues.

A modest but encouraging effect

Because the study authors excluded from the group of 283 subjects people who suffered from diabetes or cardiovascular disease, specialists from the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at NYU Langone Heart in New York consider the drop in blood pressure by 3.5 mmHg to be modest, but that it can really help. They argue that a few minutes of movement, standing up, is a good start for overweight people (such as those in the group of volunteers who took part in the study), but they lean more towards taking short walks to get the benefits higher for health. And the more physical activity, the better.

How staying can lead to health problems

Sedentary behavior contributes to obesity and cardiometabolic impairment. Metabolism, glucose, muscle tone, bones and the cardiovascular system are all affected by prolonged sitting. The most feared immediate complication of sitting is the promotion of blood clots in the lower extremities, clots that can reach the lungs. Unfortunately, in some jobs, sitting is unavoidable. But this is acceptable as long as breaks are taken regularly, i.e. every hour. It is thus recommended to exercise a little every hour, a few steps, to maintain good blood circulation in the vessels, especially in the legs, which is also useful for lowering systolic blood pressure. Any activity is good as long as you get up and moving.

How many minutes of exercise are recommended?

The benefits of regular physical activity are not new, they have been known since Antiquity. Studies over the past few centuries have only confirmed this and demonstrated that physical activity at work has reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality, pointing out that even moderate levels of physical activity can provide considerable health benefits, including a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity at all ages. It has been found that the rate of metabolic oxidation of fats is higher the higher the intensity of the effort, meaning that people need to be active regularly and push their physiological mechanisms. All this evidence has contributed to the current WHO recommendations for physical activity (moderate to vigorous) for 150 minutes per week for adults and the elderly and 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents.

Take exercise breaks, even if you work from home!

With personal and professional lives so busy and full of responsibilities, for active adults who have desk jobs (even from home) that involve sitting, physical activity during work hours might seem like a challenge. And yet there are solutions. For example, if you need to communicate something to a colleague, instead of calling him, writing to him on the Whatsapp group or sending him an email, choose to go to him. You can also make an agreement with your colleagues to let each other know that you need to get up from your seats and do some exercise. Another way to make sure you don’t miss exercise breaks is to set an alarm on your phone that will alert you that it’s time to get up.

For seniors, those who are most prone to this type of sedentism, an idea would be that when they go shopping, they should do so in stages. That is, not to buy everything they need in one trip, but to go several times, in “instalments”: one trip for bread, one for fruit, one for milk… If they own a dog, go out to many walks a day is a solution. Instead of two walks a day of half an hour, better four of a quarter of an hour. Well, the dog must agree too…

For both active adults and seniors, the classic recommendations to exercise by walking instead of using the personal car or public transport when it is not too long distances, to use the stairs instead of the lift, remain valid , to create a daily walking routine, either on foot or by bike.

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The article is in Romanian

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