Sitting All Day? Reverse the Damage with Short Walks

Do you sit for long periods of time throughout the day? Even if you don’t have a desk job, it’s likely that you sit at some point for at least an hour, which is enough to do damage to your arteries, according to researchers of a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“We have shown that prolonged sitting impairs endothelial function, which is an early marker of cardiovascular disease, and that breaking sitting time prevents the decline in that function,” noted Saurabh Thosar, PhD, lead author of the study.

After one hour of sitting, the researchers found that endothelial function, or the expansion of the arteries as a result of increased blood flow, was impaired by as much as 50 percent. In those participants who walked for five minutes each hour, however, artery function remained healthy, most likely due to the increased muscle activity and blood flow, says Thosar.

“Americans adults sit for approximately eight hours a day,” he said. “The impairment in endothelial function is significant after just one hour of sitting. It is interesting to see that light physical activity can help in preventing this impairment.”

Endothelial dysfunction is one of the earliest signs of heart disease. It’s the process that initiates the disease. If you sit for more than one hour each day, be sure to get up and stake a short stroll as often as you can to help mitigate the harmful effects of being sedentary. Your heart will thank you.

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