Cardiovascular diseases are by far the leading cause of death. A new large study now impressively shows that any activity is better for the heart than sitting – even sleeping.
A working group from the international consortium ProPASS analyzed movement data from over 15,000 people from five different countries. It became clear that all activities have significant benefits for the heart compared to passive sitting. The study results were recently presented in the “European Heart Journal”.
Anything is better than sitting
As part of the study, the researchers identified a hierarchy of behaviors that make up a typical 24-hour day, with time spent in moderate activity providing the greatest heart health benefits, followed by light activity, standing and sleeping compared to the adverse effects of sedentary behavior.
Small activities with a big impact
As the analysis of the data illustrates, even small changes in our everyday lives can have a significant impact on our heart health. Such changes could include using a standing desk or taking short exercise breaks.
Even five minutes of moderately intense exercise on a regular basis, such as a brisk walk or climbing stairs, was enough for the test subjects to achieve a measurable change in body mass index (BMI) or cholesterol levels.
Reduce sitting time
The most significant effects on heart health were seen when sitting time was replaced with more active activities. Dr. Jo Blodgett, the study’s lead author, emphasizes the importance of small behavioral changes and their positive impact on heart health. Replacing sitting time with moderate to vigorous activity is most beneficial.
Every step counts
James Leiper, deputy medical director at the British Heart Foundation, highlights the importance of these findings. He points out that replacing just a few minutes of sitting with a few minutes of moderate exercise can bring about significant improvements in BMI, cholesterol levels and waist circumference.
The research not only provides scientific findings, but also practical solutions for our everyday lives and encourages us to integrate more small active behaviors into our daily routine. (vb)