Sitting at home or at work: Which is worse for heart health?

They believe that despite the specificity of the study cohort, the findings could apply to everyone, regardless of ethnicity.

ISLAMABAD (Online): New research has found that not all forms of sedentariness are equal when it comes to the extent to which they put heart health at risk. Sitting on the couch, watching TV could increase heart risk more than sitting at a desk doing office work.

We already know that a sedentary lifestyle, in which a person sits down for long periods every day and gets little exercise, is bad for health in general and heart health in particular. However, in a new study, researchers from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, NY, have found that there is a difference between occupational sitting (sitting at work) and leisure time sitting (sitting at home, watching TV).

The researchers worked specifically with a cohort of African American people, aiming to fill a gap in the research to date, which has primarily focused on white Europeans. Nevertheless, they believe that despite the specificity of the study cohort, the findings could apply to everyone, regardless of ethnicity.

And, the investigation revealed a — perhaps surprising — distinction: The time that a person spends sitting on the couch at home, watching TV, is much more likely to increase their risk of heart problems than the time they spend sitting at work.

“Our findings show that how you spend your time outside of work may matter more when it comes to heart health,” explains study author Keith Diaz, Ph.D. The solution to this problem may be to spend more time being not just active, but intensely active, the researcher notes. “Even if you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time, replacing the time you spend sitting at home with strenuous exercise could reduce your risk of heart disease and death,” says Diaz. Diaz and team explain their findings and suggest a possible explanation for these results in a study paper that appeared yesterday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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