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Sedentary behavior linked to major cardiovascular trouble

A new study has demonstrated a link between sedentary behavior and major cardiovascular events. According to the research, which is part of a series of papers that will focus on different risk factors for cardiovascular disease, physical activity is critically important to help control the growing global issue of heart disease and stroke.

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading preventable risk factors for heart disease, in addition to high cholesterol and smoking status. A previous study revealed that physical inactivity is responsible for nine percent of premature deaths worldwide. Sedentary behavior was found to significantly contribute to the incidence of coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer.

For the current investigation, the authors analyzed data from 25 published studies which were focused on the personal and environmental variables related to physical activity or inactivity. The goal was to determine how health care professionals can empower patients to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Study lead author Dr. Gerald Fletcher is a professor of Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease at Mayo Clinic Florida.“Proper physical activity should be a lifelong commitment,” said Dr. Fletcher.  “The benefits of being physically active exist regardless of sex, ethnicity or age. The most active individuals have an approximate 40 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than those who do not exercise at all.”

The experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise every week. Aerobic exercise can significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure among hypertensive patients and can reduce the risk of stroke.

The average person engages in sedentary behavior, such as sitting in front of a computer or a television screen, for about eight hours a day. According to the researchers, replacing just one hour of inactivity with an equal amount of activity can effectively lower all-cause mortality.

The researchers suggest that individuals should incorporate more physical activities into their daily routine, such as yard work, household chores, or walking to and from work. Using stand-up desks or taking the stairs instead of an elevator can also help to promote a more active lifestyle.

“Just like medication, the right form of physical activity has to be specialized for each patient. Physical activity is no different from smoking cessation or eating a heart-healthy diet,” said Dr. Fletcher. “It is up to health care professionals to set an example for their patients in all aspects of life.”

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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