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Poor Health Linked to Long-Term Sitting
- Updated: September 9, 2014
According to published reports, sitting for long periods of time can lead to health problems that include poor circulation, joint pain, and even heart disease. Millions of people sit eight or more hours a day, which has been proven to be dangerous but researchers state there are ways to reverse potential risk and known damage.
Researchers with the Indiana University published the findings of a new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (ACSM). They state that compromised blood flow in leg arteries can be reversed simply by changing the daily sitting regimen with brief five-minute walks.
When someone sits for a long time, blood can actually begin to pool in the legs. This in turn causes blood flow to the heart to slow down, a precursor to cardiovascular disease. According to experts associated with this new study, men who participated had impaired blood flow by as much as 50% but in comparison, this same decline was not present in those who walked on a treadmill for five minutes per hour.
As stated by Saurabh Thosar, lead author of the study, it is common for adults in the United States sit for about eight hours a day. Unfortunately, just one hour of sitting causes significant function impairment. However, by getting light exercise, this impairment can easily be prevented.
For years, multiple studies have been conducted that show moderate movement helps promote healthy blood flow even when people sit for long periods. Thosar’s study consisted of males between 20 and 35 years of age who were overall healthy. None of the participants had problems with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or heart disease. However, the men who participated in the study were also inactive.
Thosar stated that that going to the gym will probably not reverse damage caused by long-term sitting. Rather, getting physical activity for a few minutes several times a day has the greatest impact.
In another study conducted earlier this year whereby participants were obese adults, it was discovered that breaking up long-term sitting with light to moderate walking breaks actually reduced blood pressure. Yet another study supported these new findings, showing that blood sugar levels were improved with light activity.
Although it was not proven in Thosar’s study that walking was the most effective means of activity, especially compared to standing, he strongly believes walking is the better option for preventing compromised blood flow in the legs. He added that without doubt, walking increases blood flow and that while standing is better than taking no break at all, it does not provide the necessary movement to get blood moving effectively.