Long periods of sitting lead to poor health measures in heart disease patients

Patients with coronary artery disease benefited from significantly reducing the amount of time spent sedentary.
Patients with coronary artery disease benefited from significantly reducing the amount of time spent sedentary.

Limiting time spent sitting may be as important as time spent exercising for the health of patients with coronary artery disease, according to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Lead author Stephanie Prince, PhD, and fellow investigators studied 263 patients with coronary artery disease who had completed a cardiac rehabilitation program on improving their levels of exercise. Study participants wore an activity monitor over 9 days while they were awake. The researchers assessed how long patients spent sedentary versus time spent active and compared these measurements with BMI and cardiorespiratory fitness.

They found that patients spent an average of 8 hours each day being sedentary, despite having taken classes on how to increase their physical activity. In addition, men sat an average of 1 hour more each day than women.

Participants who spent more time sitting had a higher BMI, regardless of their levels of physical activity; their cardiorespiratory fitness (assessed by measuring VO2 peak) was lower as well.

“Sitting, watching TV, working at a computer, and driving in a car are all sedentary behaviors, and we need to take breaks from them,” Dr. Prince said. “It's important to limit prolonged bouts of sitting and in addition, to be physically active.”

The researchers offered the following suggestions for limiting sedentary behavior:

  • Get up and move every 30 minutes.
  • Set a timer, and take regular breaks away from your desk.
  • Take lunch breaks outside instead of in front of the computer.
  • Stand up during TV commercials, or engage in light exercise while watching TV.
  • Go to bed instead of sitting in front of the TV, and get the benefits of sleeping.

Reference

  1. Prince SA, Blanchard CM, Grace SL, Reid RD. Objectively-measured sedentary time and its association with markers of cardiometabolic health and fitness among cardiac rehabilitation graduates. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2015; doi: 10.1177/2047487315617101.
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