Interrupt your sitting time to ward off heart disease

News briefs

Published: May, 2019

There's a silver lining in a recent study that found older women who were sedentary for long chunks of time had a much higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease than women who sat less. The observational study, published Feb. 22, 2019, in Circulation, analyzed activity patterns of more than 5,000 older women (ages 63 to 97) for a week, and then followed them for another five years. Both the total time spent sitting each day and the duration of each period of inactivity was measured with fitness trackers. The key finding: an additional hour of total sedentary time was associated with a 12% higher risk for cardiovascular disease during the follow-up period, and when that sitting time was made up of long uninterrupted sedentary sessions, the risk was far higher (as much as 54%) than when it was accumulated in short, regularly interrupted bouts of sedentary time. The silver lining: reducing sedentary time by an hour per day was linked to a 12% lower risk for cardiovascular disease and a 26% lower risk for developing heart disease during the study period. Even better: researchers say the one-hour reduction each day doesn't have to be accumulated at one time. The moments spent jumping up to get a glass of water, running out to your mailbox, or darting across the house to get the phone can all add up. The key is to interrupt your sitting time with activity that will get your heart and lungs pumping.

Image: © monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.