NOV 16, 2023 9:00 AM PST

Any Activity Is Better Than Sitting for Your Heart

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in the European Heart Journal has shown that replacing sedentary behavior with even small amounts of moderate-intensity physical activity could significantly improve heart health. Replacing sedentary behavior with any other activity, such as light activity, standing, or sleeping, also has benefits.

This cross-sectional study included data from six other studies encompassing over 15,000 participants. Participants wore devices that measured their daily activities, including time spent sleeping, sedentary (sitting), standing, doing light physical activity, and doing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Additionally, health measurements were taken, including body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, cholesterol, triglycerides, and HbA1c. The goal of the study was to determine how levels of movement affect heart health and weight.

The results showed that, on average, participants spent 7.7 hours sleeping, 10.4 hours sedentary, 3.1 hours standing, 1.5 hours participating in low-intensity physical activity, and 1.3 hours participating in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity. These behaviors impacted heart health in a hierarchy, with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity having the greatest benefit, followed by light activity, standing, and sleeping. Sedentary behavior had a negative impact on the heart. The research team went further by modeling the effects of replacing sedentary behavior with other behaviors. They found that replacing as little as five minutes of sedentary behavior with moderate activity every day could tangibly improve heart health.

The lead author noted that the main takeaway of this research is that even small changes in movement patterns can affect heart health. However, intensity of movement is an important component. While light activity and even standing can help heart health, vigorous activity had the greatest impact and is the most time-efficient method to improve fitness and health.

Sources: European Heart Journal, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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