Sitting for long periods increases heart failure risk in men, even for those who exercise regularly, according to a study.
Preventing heart failure, researchers found, requires a two-part behavioral approach: high levels of physical activity plus low levels of sedentary time. The study, published in the January issue of Circulation: Heart Failure, is the first to examine the link between heart failure risk and sedentary time, said Deborah Rohm Young, PhD, lead researcher and a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, Calif.
Researchers followed a racially diverse group of 84,170 men who were ages 45 to 69 and did not have heart failure. Exercise levels were calculated in METs, or metabolic equivalent of task, a measure of the bodys energy use. Sedentary levels were measured in hours.
After an average of nearly eight years of follow-up, researchers found:
Men with low levels of physical activity were 52% 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% 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 with men who were very physically active and sat for two hours or less a day.
The findings support the American Heart Association recommendation that people get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity to reduce their risk for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, Young said.
Since no women were studied, the results may not apply to them, the researchers noted. Among other limitations: Results were self-reported, which could mean physical activity was over-reported, and were based only on time outside of work and thus cannot be applied to overall sedentary activity. Participants were members of comprehensive health plans, so results may not apply to men lacking health insurance.