A new study shows that sitting for long periods increases heart failure risk in men, even for those who regularly exercise. Heart failure is the inability of the heart muscle to effectively pump blood throughout the body. It affects 5.7 million Americans — mostly older people. Approximately 20 percent of adults will be diagnosed with it during their lifetime.

The study included a racially diverse group of over 82,000 men between the ages of 45 and 69. Follow-ups with the participants averaged a span of eight years. Researchers found:

  • Men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men with high physical activity levels, even after adjusting for differences in sedentary time.
  • Outside of work, men who spent five or more hours a day sitting were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised.
  • Heart failure risk more than doubled in men who sat for at least five hours a day and got little exercise compared to men who were very physically active and sat for two hours or less a day.

The researchers, therefore, concluded that in order to prevent heart failure, one is required to implement a two-part behavioral approach: 1) high levels of physical activity, AND 2) low levels of sedentary time. The overall message is, “Sit less. Move more.”

You should strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity to reduce your risk for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases