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Sitting for over 8 hours a day makes you 20% likelier to have a heart attack or stroke, study warns

Office workers are more prone to heart attacks and strokes, another study finds.

For decades, doctors have been warning about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and its impact on organs such as our hearts.

New research, which followed 100,000 adults for more than a decade, has sparked fresh calls for Britons stuck at their desks to get up and move.

Chinese experts found that people who sit eight hours a day — the equivalent of a 9-5 office worker skipping lunch — were 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

They were also 49 percent more likely to have heart failure, compared with those who sat for only half that time.

The researchers claimed that reducing sitting time and increasing physical activity could yield similar benefits as cutting back on smoking.

Charities urged employees to exercise regularly and walk to work, and called on employers to provide standing desks.

People who sit more than eight hours a day are 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to those who sit between four and eight hours, study suggests

People who sit more than eight hours a day are 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to those who sit between four and eight hours, study suggests

HOW MUCH PRACTICE YOU NEED

To stay healthy, adults ages 19 to 64 should try to be active on a daily basis and should do the following:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or brisk walking per week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that target all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that target all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity each week – for example 2 x 30 minutes of running plus 30 minutes of brisk walking corresponds to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that target all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

A good rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.

One way to get to your recommended 150-minute weekly exercise is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week.

All adults should also break long periods of sitting with light activity.

Source: NHS

Academics from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College analyzed data from 105,677 people.

The participants were spread over 21 countries, had an average age of 50 and were asked how many hours per day they spent sitting per week.

Researchers then tracked their health records over the next 11 years.

At the end of the investigation, there were just over 6,200 dead.

There were also 2,300 heart attacks, 3,000 strokes and 700 cases of heart failure – although not all were fatal.

The participants were divided into different groups, based on how long they admitted to sitting.

This allowed the researchers, whose findings were published in JAMA Cardiology, to see if there was a trend.

Weekly exercise helped reduce the dangers of excessive sitting, the study also suggested.

Those who did the most — defined as twelve and a half hours a week — were only 17 percent more likely to die or die.

While those who did the least — less two and a half hours a week — had a 50 percent increased risk.

But the authors noted that even the most active babysitters had a similar risk of death or heart disease as infrequent babysitters.

They also calculated that 8.8 percent of deaths and 5.8 percent of heart disease cases recorded in the study period were due to the combined effect of sitting excessively and being physically inactive.

The authors said it was comparable to smoking, which accounted for 10.6 percent and 6.6 percent.

Lead author Wei Li claimed the findings should encourage people to stop sitting so much and be more active.

The NHS advice states that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, such as running.

They should also do muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.

Chloe MacArthur of the British Heart Foundation said: ‘This study adds to what we already know about activity and our health by showing that sitting more than eight hours a day is associated with an increased risk of stroke.’

She urged office workers to exercise for 30 minutes before or after work and ask their boss for a standing desk.

“A great way to improve your cardiovascular health is to aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which is just half an hour five days a week.

‘That can be done before or after the working day, for example by going for a walk or exercising.’

Ms. MacArthur added: ‘Employers can also help by offering, for example, standing desks in offices to employees.’

Cardiovascular disease causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK, about 160,000 a year, which is equivalent to one fatality every three minutes.

In the US, heart disease is the leading cause for Americans, killing 659,000 people every year, about one every 36 seconds.

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