Sutherly, The Columbus Dispatch
No need to sit to hear this news: Too much sedentary time can
harm the heart, even in men who exercise.
Kaiser Permanente researchers found that men who spend at least
five hours outside work each day watching television, sitting or
reading face a 34 percent greater risk of heart failure than men
who spend two hours or less daily on those sedentary
The study focused on 82,695 California men who were at least 45
years old. Researchers said the study's implications likely are
similar for women, who were not included.
By focusing on the impact of sedentary behavior specifically on
heart failure, the study, published in January in the
journal Circulation: Heart Failure, confirms and adds
to a growing body of research that documents the negative effects
of prolonged periods of sitting, even on those who exercise.
"This just fits nicely into our understanding of the effects of
the lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle," said Dr. Charles
Noble, a cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology and who
works primarily at Mount Carmel East hospital.
"The sedentary lifestyle and the lack of exercise is really a
Deborah Rohm Young, a Kaiser Permanente research scientist and
study co-author, said she was surprised that the link was so strong
between sedentary behavior and heart failure, even after
controlling for physical exercise.
"I was expecting to see a bit of a bump, but not as much as we
did," she said.
The study reinforces the importance of national guidelines that
recommend we get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous
physical activity each week, she said. The study found that men who
engaged in a low level of physical activity were 52 percent more
likely to have heart failure than those who had a high level of
And though the results focused on activity outside work, those
of us with office jobs probably should take heed.
Employers should keep in mind that other studies have found that
workers who do exercise tend to be more productive and incur lower
health-care costs, Young said. She recommends that companies let
employees build 30 minutes of physical activity into their
Noble, the Mount Carmel cardiologist, agrees.
"Employees or schoolchildren - no matter what the setting -
physically it's not good for you to sit at desks for eight hours
and not walk around," he said.
Dr. Lee Jordan, a cardiologist at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist
Hospital who specializes in heart failure, said he likes to keep
the message positive for patients, with an emphasis on " exercise
more" rather than "sit less." People should look for opportunities
to garden or do yard work or take a walk with a spouse, he
Rod Bouc began using a treadmill desk three years ago for his
job as deputy director of operations at the Columbus Museum of Art.
The treadmill's speed tops out at 2 mph, and Bouc walks as many as
3 miles per day, depending on how many emails he answers.
"It doesn't feel right anymore to answer emails if I'm not
walking," said Bouc, 64.
He said the office treadmill has encouraged him to do more
"legitimate" exercise, including weight-lifting.
"When you exercise, you just feel better," Bouc said.