Any Activity — Even Sleeping — Is Healthier For the Heart Than Sitting, Says Report

“This encouraging research shows that small adjustments to your daily routine could lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke," said one researcher

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of woman sitting on a couch


Stock image of woman sitting on a couch

A new study from the European Heart Journal found that sitting down for long periods of time can be more detrimental to heart health than even sleeping.

The report, published on Nov. 10, found that physical inactivity and having an inadequate amount of sleep were risk factors of “cardiometabolic diseases,” and therefore, getting more sleep and even taking a break to stand up had a more positive impact on heart health.

Researchers from the University of College London (UCL) and the University of Sydney looked at six different studies that analyzed 15,000 people from five countries and how their different activities 24 hours a day affected their heart health. They then created a list of behaviors that were most beneficial to the heart all the way down to least beneficial.

They found that doing moderate-vigorous activity like running or climbing stairs were most beneficial to improving cardiovascular health followed by lighter activity like standing or sleeping.

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The new report is the first one to give a hierarchy of behaviors beneficial to the heart across 24 hours in a day, according to Professor Mark Hamer, joint senior author of the study from UCL Surgery & Interventional Science and the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health, per the New York Post.

“This approach will allow us to ultimately provide personalized recommendations to get people more active in ways that are appropriate for them,” he said.

"The most beneficial change we observed was replacing sitting with moderate to vigorous activity — which could be a run, a brisk walk or stair climbing — basically any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, even for a minute or two,” Dr. Jo Blodgett told the U.S. News & World Report.

She added that ultimately the biggest takeaway from the study was that “while small changes” can have a “positive effect on heart health,” the “intensity of movement matters."

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The report noted that while replacing 30 minutes of sitting down with sleeping, standing, light-intensity physical activity or moderate-vigorous physical activity could lower a person’s body mass index (BMI), light-intensity physical activity or moderate-vigorous physical activity had a bigger, more positive change.

“We already know that exercise can have real benefits for your cardiovascular health and this encouraging research shows that small adjustments to your daily routine could lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke," James Leiper, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, also told the outlet.

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"This study shows that replacing even a few minutes of sitting with a few minutes of moderate activity can improve your BMI, cholesterol, waist size and have many more physical benefits," he added.

He also noted, per the NY Post, that taking activity breaks in between normal life routines like “walking while taking phone calls, or setting an alarm to get up and do some star jumps every hour” are a good way to “start building activity into your day” and transition into a more healthy, active lifestyle.

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