HEART
February 2, 2014

A Post-Game Plan

OK, guys, time to stagger away from the tube and the nachos. There are risks associated with being a sedentary man.

The health benefits of moving your body are well established, but new benefits keep showing up. There's overwhelming evidence that sitting is linked to serious and chronic health problems, not to mention earlier death.

Regular exercise, on the other hand, has long been connected with fewer chronic health issues and better longevity. Pair the two together — sit less and exercise more — and you’re in pretty good shape.

It goes beyond being fit and trim. Specific conditions like diabetes have been shown to be affected by the number of hours one spends sitting each day.

And now, a new study has found that sitting less and exercising more might well save you from the risk of another very common health problem: Heart failure.

At the end of those eight years, men with low levels of physical activity were over 50% more likely to suffer heart failure — and this is after time spent sitting was taken out of the analysis.

None of the 84,000+ middle-aged men in the study had heart problems when the eight-year study began. The researchers regularly asked the men how much exercise they were getting and how many hours per day they spent sitting.

The risk of heart attack was also tracked over the study period.

At the end of those eight years, men with low levels of physical activity were over 50% more likely to suffer heart failure — and this is after time spent sitting was taken out of the analysis.

A similar trend was also found for sitting time: Men who spent five hours per day sitting outside of their time at the office, compared to men who sat for only two, had a third higher risk of heart failure.

Men who exercised rarely and spent most of their time sitting had double the risk of a heart attack compared to men who were physically active and spent two hours or less of their free time sitting.

The results likely apply to both sexes, even though women were not included in the study since earlier research on sitting did include women.

The researchers plan to expand the study to determine the effect time spent sitting at work might have on health. If sitting during your downtime is any indication, it can’t be good.

The message is pretty simple: In your free time, sit as little as possible and engage in as much physical activity as you reasonably can. (Always talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine, particularly if you have not been active.)

The study was carried out at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, CA, and published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

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