If you are like most people, then you probably spend a large portion of your day sitting down in front of the computer. The number of sedentary jobs has increased by 83 percent since 1950. Only 20 percent of the jobs today require regular physical activity.
Being sedentary is not good for your heart. In fact, studies have shown that people who are sedentary are more likely to develop heart disease. Even if you are exercising for 30 minutes a day, your health can still be negatively impacted if you are sitting down for eight to 12 hours per day.
What the research says
Many people try to keep their weight within a healthy range in order to protect their heart. However, studies have shown that sedentary people are more likely to develop heart disease even if their weight is within a healthy range. A team of researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey .
The subjects were between the ages of 40 and 79. They were either normal weight or overweight. The results of the study showed that the normal-weight subjects who had large waistlines and were sedentary had an increased risk of developing heart disease. Their heart disease risk was similar to the overweight subjects.
Erik Van Iterson is a clinical exercise physiologist. He was not a part of the study. He stated that the results of study prove that people should look at their overall lifestyle habits. They should not focus on more than just the number on the scale.
There was another study that involved 7,744 men who were between the ages of 20 and 89. The study began in 1982. It examined the link between sedentary behavior and heart disease. The subjects were asked to follow-up after 21 years. Three hundred and seventy-seven people died during the study.
The results of the study showed that men who spend 10 or more hours in a car per week were 82 percent more likely to die from heart disease. Men who were sedentary for 23 hours out of the week were 64 percent more likely to die from heart disease.
What you can do
Dr. Van Iterson recommends that people make a plan to be more active. He stated that people should walk around the office several times a day. If you do this, then you can easily get 40 to 50 minutes of extra activity per day. He also recommends that you follow a healthy diet and set small, reasonable goals.
Other small steps can be taken as well, such as taking a walk around the block on your lunch break or cycling to work as opposed to driving. Cardio exercise is the single most important aid to optimal heart health. Even 30 minutes a day can make a significant difference.