Men: Get moving to help your heart
All those hours of sitting around watching the game may be hazardous to men’s heart health. A new study urges men to take a page from their favorite team’s playbook, and get moving.
The Kaiser Permanente study, published in the journal Circulation, finds that prolonged sedentary behavior may increase the risk of heart failure among men.
Heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart is unable to maintain enough blood flow for the body’s needs. According to the American Heart Association, heart failure affects more than 5.7 million people in the United States.
“This study gives us another tool we can use to emphasize the importance of physical activity and the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle,” says Dr. Abbas Rampurwala, interventional cardiologist on staff at Advocate Sherman Hospital. “I hope that more cases of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases can be prevented through continued awareness.”
Researchers analyzed the health records of 82,695 men, ages 45 and older, who were part of the California Men’s Health Study. These men did not have prevalent heart failure at the beginning of the study and were followed for 10 years. Researchers discovered a significant link between lack of physical activity and increased risk of heart failure.
In fact, men who reported low physical activity levels and high levels of sedentary time had a 52 percent greater risk of developing heart failure compared to those with high physical activity levels and low levels of sedentary time.
“I found it interesting that researchers separated physical activity and sedentary behavior to show the bulk effect of both on heart failure,” Dr. Rampurwala says. “This shows that even if a person exercises regularly (for example, 30 minutes, three days a week), but is otherwise sedentary for long hours each day, he or she is still at risk of developing heart failure.”
According to Dr. Rampurwala, the answer to preventing heart failure is an ongoing active lifestyle. For example, take frequent breaks throughout your workday to move around or go for a walk with co-workers on your lunch break. Watch your favorite television shows while walking on the treadmill or riding an indoor bicycle in your living room or at the gym.
“We need to change the advice we give our patients,” Dr. Rampurwala says. “Instead of telling them to simply exercise 30 minutes, three or more days a week, we need to emphasize that any amount of physical activity is beneficial, even if only 10-minute bouts multiple times a day. The key is breaking up long hours of sitting by incorporating physical fitness into our daily routines.”
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