Sitting for long periods of time is terrible for your heart, study finds

Sitting for a prolonged period of time may be harmful to cardiovascular health, a new study finds. Cardiologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have concluded that two hours of sedentary behavior may be just as detrimental as exercising for 20 minutes is beneficial.

Results from the study were published in the July 7, 2014 online edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The study focused on the link between fitness levels, amount of exercise per day, and sedentary behavior. Results were based off of data from 2,223 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

According to the study, harmful effects of sedentary behavior can determine cardiorespiratory fitness, regardless of exercise. Sedentary behavior involves activities with low energy expenditure, such as driving, sitting, reading, and watching TV.

Senior study author Dr. Jarett Berry, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Science, said in a statement, “Previous studies have reported that sedentary behavior was associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular outcomes; however, the mechanisms through which this occurs are not completely understood.” He continued, “Our data suggest that sedentary behavior may increase risk through an impact on lower fitness levels, and that avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day may represent an important companion strategy to improve fitness and health, outside of regular exercise activity.”

According to WebMD, prolonged periods of physical inactivity increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.