Prolonged Sitting Worsens Health for Heart Disease Patients, Says Study

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prolonged sittingMany people will sit for prolonged periods of time throughout the day. For instance, it is common practice for people to sit while commuting, working at the office, watching TV or typing on their computers. That means quite a few people spend most of their days sitting, but that does not leave much time for exercise.

Previous studies have found that people spend an average of 7.7 hours daily sitting, which can increase the risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes, anxiety, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and heart disease.

In a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute have found that sitting may even worsen the health of patients who already have heart disease, even if they exercise.

“Sitting, watching TV, working at a computer and driving in a car are all sedentary behaviors and we need to take breaks from them,” explained the study’s lead author Dr. Stephanie Prince. “Limiting the amount of time we spend sitting may be as important as the amount we exercise.”
Dr. Prince recommends that everyone get up and move around every 30 minutes to improve their health.

For the study, the researchers enrolled 278 coronary heart disease patients. Each patient learned how to increase their physical activity levels after completing a cardiac rehabilitation program. For nine days, the patients were tracked during waking hours with an activity monitor. This allowed the researchers to learn how often the patients spent sitting and how long they spent exercising.

In addition, the researchers found that people with heart disease who sat for a minimum of eight hours each day had lower cardiorespiratory fitness levels and higher body mass indexes (BMIs). Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability to engage in moderate-or high-intensity exercises for long periods of time.

The researchers were surprised by the results given that participants learned how to get more exercise by completing the cardiac rehabilitation program.

“We assumed they would be less sedentary but they spent the majority of their day sitting,” added Dr. Prince.

On average, men spent an hour or more sitting daily compared to women. More research is needed to understand why women spent less time sitting. The little research on the topic suggests that men watch more TV and become more sedentary around the age of 60.

The researchers emphasized the importance of limiting prolonged sitting periods and increasing physical activity levels. Practical tips to help people keep moving include standing during TV commercials, taking regular breaks from the work desk, taking lunch breaks away from the computer, going to bed instead of falling asleep in front of the TV, and monitoring activity patterns to track sedentary behavior.

Contrary to the current study, research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in October found that prolonged sitting did not increase health risks among active individuals. However, the study included data from 1,412 women and 3,720 men without heart disease
Sources for Today’s Article:
Prince, S.A., et al., “Objectively-measured sedentary time and its association with markers of cardiometabolic health and fitness among cardiac rehabilitation graduates,” European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 2015; doi: 10.1177/22047487315617101.
Whiteman, H., “Prolonged sitting worsens health for heart disease patients,” Medical News Today web site, November 26, 2015;
“Heart disease patients who sit a lot have worse health even if they exercise,” ScienceDaily web site, November 25, 2015;
Tecson, K., “Prolonged sitting worsens the health of heart disease patients even with exercise, study finds,” IBT web site, November 27, 2015;
D’Souza, J., “Sitting A Lot Leads To Worse Health In Heart Disease Patients,” The Huffington Post Canada web site, November 26, 2015;
Pulsford, R., et al., “Associations of sitting behaviours with all-cause mortality over a 16-year follow-up: the Whitehall II study,” International Journal of Epidemiology, published online October 9, 2015; doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv191.
Levine, J.A., “What are the risks of sitting too much?” Mayo Clinic web site,, last accessed November 27, 2015.

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Jon Yaneff, CNP

About the Author, Browse Jon's Articles

Jon Yaneff is a holistic nutritionist and health researcher with a background in journalism. After years of a hectic on-the-go, fast food-oriented lifestyle as a sports reporter, Jon knew his life needed a change. He began interviewing influential people in the health and wellness industry and incorporating beneficial health and wellness information into his own life. Jon’s passion for his health led him to the certified nutritional practitioner (CNP) program at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. He graduated with first... Read Full Bio »