Sitting Is a Hazardous Activity

Cleveland Clinic is the best hospital in the country (perhaps the world) for hearts and heart-related matters, according to most measures and rankings. So what they say about hearts matters. And here’s some of what they say:

Turns out, your work to keep [your heart] strong is a key to longevity. While it’s not surprising that exercise is good for you — and for your heart — it may surprise you to learn that exercise that tests your heart in a controlled manner on an ongoing basis can actually add years to your life.

Which isn’t surprising. But this might be: “[S]edentary behavior and regular exercise are likely independent of each other.”

Hmmm, I thought. You mean all my walks, cycling, and weight lifting doesn’t offset all of my sitting and sedentary “activities”? Here’s what the Cleveland Clinic had to say about that (emphasis added):

“Research studies have shown sedentary behavior and regular exercise are likely independent of each other. That is, even if you exercise for 30 minutes each day, sitting for long periods of time for the rest of the day may still increase your risk of heart disease. This is because the mechanisms of harm related to prolonged sitting are likely separate from exercise.

“When we sit down for long periods of time we get smooth muscle relaxation around our blood vessels, our blood pressure and heart rates change and we become more likely to snack, especially while watching television,” says Dr. Ahmed. “Rather than being physically active or sleeping, we are sitting, which is worse than either.”

The more time you spend sitting, the higher your risk of heart disease, according to a recent study reported at the American College of Cardiology 2015 Scientific Sessions.

Prolonged sitting can damage more than your heartit can also wreak havoc on your insulin resistance and cholesterol levels too, says Dr. Ahmed.

“If you have a desk job, consider exercising your heart by using a standing desk or treadmill desk, or taking a walk for five or 10 minutes several times per day.”

I suppose none of this should come as a surprise, particularly to folk like me who are susceptible to edema. Sitting on an airplane or in a car for a long trip is a reminder of the hazards of this particular “activity.” To help counter this condition, I recently expanded my office options so I could work on my computer while standing. But I still sit far too much.

I’m grateful to the Cleveland Clinic for this reminder: get off your ass! Stand. Walk around. Do the jig. If you want to live longer, that is. If you don’t, then by all means allow the televisions, computer screens, and books to lull you into a deep sleep.

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