Prolonged Sitting and Cardiovascular Health. By Ayinla Daniel.

You are surprised to hear that sitting is the new smoking! Yes it is, so the earlier you stop sitting and start getting active, the better it is for your heart.

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As researches are carried out, new discoveries are made, facts are established, procedures are improved and obsolete techniques are retired.

It is imperative that the population must be well informed of everyday “normal habits,” that have negative impacts on the health of people.

Recent researches have been able to determine the connection between prolonged sitting and heart diseases.

In this short article, I will try to make comments and include relevant information about the negative effects of prolonged sitting on cardiovascular health [and general health].

You can also check out a previous article I wrote on gravity and human physiology,it will give you an idea of the role gravity plays.

Sitting is the new smoking.

Sitting is the new smoking is a “not too recent,” popular saying that alerts the public of the intrinsic dangers of prolonged sitting.

Today, the average office worker sits for about 10 hours, first all those hours in front of the computer, ploughing through e-mails, making calls or writing proposals — and eating lunch. And then all those hours of sitting in front of the TV or surfing the Web at home. – The Washington Post.
– The Washington Post.

What’s the connection between prolonged sitting and cardiovascular health?

To comprehend this, it is important that the understanding of the relationship between sedentary lifestyles and heart diseases is well established.

Note: Immobile patients/clients are at risk of developing blood clots in their blood [low-pressure vessels – veinous system], this is due to lack of adequate movement and the force of gravity on the blood, can you relate this to prolonged sitting?

Being inactive [without regular exercise] predisposes one to developing heart diseases, this is because the more inactive [sedentary] you are the more blood flow through the closed cardiovascular system is slowed and coupled with the force of gravity which is ever-present to further reduce the flow of blood through the blood vessels – as blood flow slows down [from the aorta to the venous vessels], this reduction in flow leads to the gradual build-up of fatty acids in the lumen of blood vessels, especially blood vessels with smaller lumens [the effects of gravity is pronounced in venous blood system partly because of the low pressure in the venous system].

Another basic physiology you must also understand is in the production of Lipoprotein Lipase which is an enzyme responsible for the break down of fatty acids in the blood. The production of this enzyme slows down rapidly when an individual sits for a prolonged time – this insufficiency leads to the accumulation of fatty acids in the blood vessels.


How long is too much sitting? Sitting for two hours stretch is unhealthy.

When you sit, you use less energy than you do when you stand or move. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns. They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome. Too much sitting overall and prolonged periods of sitting also seem to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

Take a brief look at this report:

A study published at the end of 2017 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found evidence that sitting for long periods of time is a risk factor for early death. According to their study, the more time you sit, the greater your risk for early death becomes. Here are some statistics from the study:
  • Participants in the study who sat for more than 13 hours per day had a 200 per cent greater risk of death than participants who sat for less than 11 hours.
  • Participants who moved more and sat less (sitting less than 30 minutes at a time) had a 55 per cent lower risk than those who sat for 30 minutes or more at a time.
  • Participants who often sat longer than 90 minutes at a time were about twice as likely to die than those who always limited their sitting time to less than 90 minutes at a time.

Here are some more effects of prolonged sitting:

  • Prolonged sitting can cause insulin resistance – leading to type 2 diabetes.
  • Sitting for an overextended period of time has negative effects on the musculoskeletal system; lack of adequate use.
  • Regular exercise stimulates the production of a unique molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is important in neurogenesis and it also reduces stress hormone [cortisol]. The subsequent reduction in the production of this chemical due to inactivity has negative effects on brain neurons and an expected increase in cortisol.

Healthy Work Environment.

A healthy work environment promotes safety for the wellbeing of workers. Features in the work environment that promote activeness include:

  • Using standing desks that will enable you move about while you work [I bet we need this kind of stuff today].
  • Taking frequent breaks to walk around, stretch and get active.
  • Utilizing smartphones to help remind you of getting up when you sit for too long [setting reminders and timers].
  • Conferences must adopt “standing style conferencing, “let us start having conferences where we stand most of the time.
  • Engaging in regular exercise.
The World Health Organization estimates that 95 per cent of the world’s adult population is inactive, failing to meet minimum recommendations for health of 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity five times a week.

Scary but true, a simple panacea to a formidable health challenge. You need to start making necessary lifestyle modifications and decide to live healthier by sitting less.

Ayinla Daniel RN.
(Chief Editor, Care City Blog).

Selected Links/ References

(c) Care City. 2019.


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