Sitting and Its Effects on Heart Health
By: Stephanie Kritzberger, RN, BSN
Many of us are telecommuting more than ever, with an average of 8 out of every 10 people working hybrid or remote. That number is only expected to grow according to a Gallup survey in 2022. While working at home can be a great comfort, it can also mean people are not as active. What does that mean for our heart health? People who are minimally active have a 147% increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes and a 90% increased risk of death from cardiovascular events according to a study from the heart foundation .
The heart is a muscle and just like other muscles in your body, if you don’t work it, it gets weaker. Prolonged sitting more than 8 hours per day is associated with a 49% increased risk of heart failure (1). All that sitting disrupts our heart’s ability to pump blood throughout our whole body. When blood isn’t pumped efficiently, it can lead to hardened arteries, elevated blood pressure, and blood pooling or fatty deposits in blood vessels. When we exercise, we have a stronger more efficient heart to pump blood.
There are many simple ways to counter the effects of sitting including setting hourly reminders to get up and move. Going up and down a flight of stairs, doing some jumping jacks in place or going for a quick run outside can all get your heart pumping. Walking with a colleague for meetings or as a break is another way to increase your activity. Just 60 to 75 minutes of moderatephysical activity a day can help counter the effects of too much sitting . If you are able to, a standing desk is also a great option to incorporate more movement into your work day.
While it’s tempting to hunker down with a warm blanket and space heater during these cold winter months, don’t forget to move around to keep your heart healthy and strong.
- Webmd.com. 2022. Sitting Again Linked to Disease, Death but Exercise May Help. [online] Available at: webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/news/20220620/heart-failure-more-likely-those-who-sit-most. [accessed 25 January 2023]
- MayoClinic.org. 2022. What are the risks of sitting too much? [online] available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq [ accessed 25 January 2023]
- Theheartfoundation.org. 2019. Is Sitting the new smoking. [online] Available at: theheartfoundation.org/2019/08/10/is-sitting-the-new-smoking. [accessed 25 January 2023]
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