Study links sitting with cardiovascular disease
Men who spend too much time sitting – even those who exercise regularly – are at higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a study by researchers from the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.
The study was published in the May issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. It examined the relationship between two sedentary behaviors (riding in a car and watching TV), with cardiovascular disease mortality in men.
The result: Men who sat the longest amount of time during the week – 23 hours or more – while watching television or riding in cars had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who spent about half that time sitting.
The surprise: Among men who were physically active, those who sat the longest amount of time had higher cardiovascular disease mortality rates despite also being physically active. Thus, their activity may not counteract those sedentary hours.
The message: We need to get up and move around, according to Tatiana Y. Warren, a Ph.D. candidate in exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health and the study’s lead author.
It’s not that people are watching too much TV or spending too much time surfing the Internet. “The issue is sitting,” Warren said.
The data for the study of 7,744 healthy men, primarily white, came from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, dating back to 1982, at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Participants completed a survey on watching television and riding in cars. In the follow-up 21 years later, the researchers found that 377 men had experienced fatal heart attacks.
The study is one of the first to look at the effects associated with time spent engaged in combined sedentary behaviors and cardiovascular mortality, Warren said.
Even people who spend a lot of time working at a desk or watching television need to get up and move during the day.
“Get up and move. Move constantly during the day,” Warren said. “Take the stairs, park farther away. Bring in more leisure physical activity through the day. It’s beneficial.”
Warren collaborated with Arnold School researchers Vaughn Barry, Dr. Steven Hooker, Dr. Mei Sui and Dr. Steve Blair, who also has a faculty appointment in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics, and Dr. Timothy Church from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.