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Sitting Long Periods Increases Heart Attack Risk

Posted Aug 07 2013 12:00am
Sitting and Heart Attack Risk It is well documented that sitting for extended periods in front of a computer doing repetitive movements is a primary cause of back, neck, and upper extremity pain, even carpal tunnel syndrome. But are there other health risks involved?

What is considered an extended period and what if you are not in front of a computer but are just sitting, reading or watching TV or playing video games, is this hazardous to your health somehow?

Well, the answer is YES?

Here is an excerpt from an article from the Mayo Clinic website entitled What are the Risks of Sitting too Much by James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D:

Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

One recent study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:

  • A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
  • About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack

The increased risk was separate from other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure.

Sitting in front of the TV isn't the only concern. Any extended sitting — such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel — can be harmful. What's more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn't seem to significantly offset the risk.

Rather, the solution seems to be less sitting and more moving overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.

My Take: Life is motion, and we need a lot more than we think. I have a close friend who suffered a heart attack that was in great physical shape, ate a plant based diet, worked out 4-5 times per week, but was sitting all day in front of a computer under tremendous stress to meet deadlines. He made it thankfully, and now makes it a point to walk whenever he can, do aerobic exercise 5 days per week, and sit a lot less. Heck...even standing at your desk is better than sitting according to research.

Even if you workout a few days a week and run or do aerobics, you are still at risk. So pick up the pace, really pick it up...hit the stairs, walk to and from wherever it is you are going whenever you can...and take frequent breaks throughout the day where you get up and move around. What about a treadmill at your desk...I am prescribing them and so are other doctors, because Life is motion.

By Dr. Eben Davis

Dr. Davis has been practicing chiropractic in downtown San Francisco for over 21 years.

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