This Everyday Habit Is Bad For Your Heart And Can Shave Years Off Your Life
Are you spending more than 8 hours sitting in your office chair or your comfortable recliner at home watching television? Researchers say that sitting at your desk all day could be extremely bad for your health even if you exercise regularly. Sugary snacks and excessive stress-eating at the office have already been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity but now new studies are showing that there are several other ways your 9-to-5 desk job could slowly be weakening your heart and killing you.
Sitting for Prolonged Periods of Time is Bad for Health
The health implications of sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time have already been widely known but most of us thought that the disadvantages of desk-bound job could be counterbalanced by incorporating an hour or two of physical activity. Unfortunately, experts say that the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle go beyond the risk of weight gain and obesity. Apparently, the more you sit at your desk, the weaker you heart muscles become with time – even with occasional exercise.
This is becoming a serious health issue since a majority of the working population around the world spends more than 8 hours a day sitting in an office. But even after the workday is over, most of us hop into our cars, drive back home only to sit some more in front of the television or a computer screen. In the technologically advanced world that we live in today, laziness has become extremely convenient – but at the cost of our health.
Sitting Linked to High Levels of Troponin
Studies show that those who spend more than 8 hours a day continuously sitting in one place are at a greater risk of developing heart diseases and type 2 diabetes, and risk is not minimized even with exercise. As the heart progressively gets weaker due to lack of activity, it has to work harder to pump blood through the body exposing you to the risk of heart failure, and eventually, death. But how can a mere act of sitting exert so much pressure on the heart, incapacitating it from giving an adequate response to exertion?
The unclear phenomenon has left the medical society perplexed for a long time until recently, when a few cardiologists found a link between sitting and high levels of troponin in blood. Troponins are proteins that have previously been identified as the danger sign of a dying heart. Cells inside the cardiac muscles produce this protein only when they are injured and patients who have suffered from a heart attack have shown an increased number of troponins in their bloodstream. Doctors often consider high levels of troponin as a sign of damage in cardiac muscles which could eventually lead to heart failure if not treated properly.
Heart Failure, a Direct Result of Prolonged Sitting
The groundbreaking discovery that sitting can increase troponin levels in our body was fist published in Circulation as a part of the Dallas Heart Study conducted in the Southwestern Medical Center of University of Texas. The researchers of the study examined the cardiac health of 1,700 people from different ethnic groups through elaborate methods such as blood tests and activity trackers. Most of the participants in the study had desk jobs that required them to sit one place for an extended period of time, whereas some of them already showed signs of a weak heart including shortness of breath and chest pain.
The researchers measured the level of troponins in participants’ blood and tracked their daily activity levels to find a link between the two variables. The results showed that most of the participants who sat at a desk for more than 8 hours showed extremely low levels of physical activity on their trackers. Only a small percentage of the participants got some form of exercise in their daily routine and the more they moved, the lower the troponin level in their blood became. On the other hand, people who spent a significant part of their day sitting, showed higher levels of troponin. Researchers think that heart failure is an indirect result of fat deposition, obesity and insulin resistance which occur due to inactivity.
Maybe including more physical activity in our busy schedule should become the New Year’s Resolution. Simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and including small walk breaks after every two hours of sitting at the desk can drastically improve your health.
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