Healthy Living

published : 2023-11-16

Standing and Sleeping Better for Heart Than Sitting, New Study Suggests

Swapping out a few minutes of sitting each day can have noticeable benefits, experts say

A person standing at a standing desk, working on a laptop to promote a healthy work environment. (Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

Adults are sedentary for an average of 9½ hours each day, studies have shown — and all that sitting could be putting people's heart health at risk.

In six separate studies that included over 15,000 people from five countries, researchers found that even a few moments of sitting replaced with any other activity, such as standing or sleeping, can improve cardiovascular health.

The more vigorous the activity, the greater the heart health benefits.

Researchers discovered that just a few minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in place of sitting had a positive impact on heart health.

A peaceful image of a person sleeping comfortably in a well-lit bedroom, emphasizing the importance of quality sleep for heart health. (Taken with Nikon D850)

For example, replacing 30 minutes of sitting with 30 minutes of exercise can lead to noticeable decreases in body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and blood glucose levels.

Experts hope this data reaches a broad population and affects behavior, as regular physical activity has been shown to positively affect blood pressure, glucose levels, body fat, cholesterol, sleep patterns, and mood.

According to Dr. Jo Blodgett, the key takeaway from the study is that even small changes in movement can have a positive effect on heart health.

While lower-level activities can also benefit heart health, the researchers emphasize that higher intensity activities elicit quicker results.

A group of people engaged in a vigorous workout class, showcasing the benefits of exercise on cardiovascular health. (Taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

The study did have limitations, and further research is needed to confirm the relationship between activity levels and long-term heart health.

In the meantime, experts suggest incorporating enjoyable changes into daily routines that can be maintained in the long term.

James Leiper of the British Heart Foundation recommends adding 'activity snacks' like walking while taking phone calls or setting alarms for brief bursts of exercise throughout the day.

Ultimately, the goal is to provide personalized recommendations for individuals to become more active in ways that suit their preferences and circumstances.