Learn why you should sit less and move more

JAN 18, 2016
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Move more and sit less, or you could jeopardize your health. That’s the message of a groundbreaking study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente.


Men who sit for more than 5 hours a day outside of work are 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who spend no more than 2 hours a day sitting outside of work, according to the study, the first of its kind to look at the connection between sedentary time and the risk of heart failure.


Men with low levels of physical activity are 52 percent more likely than those who are active to develop heart failure — a serious and sometimes fatal cardiovascular disease affecting 5.1 million Americans. The 10-year Kaiser Permanente study closely followed the behavior of more than 84,000 men ages 45 to 69.


The bottom line: Even if you do physical activity every day, being a couch potato and sitting too much can increase your risk of heart failure.


We asked Kaiser Permanente’s fitness authority Bob Sallis, MD, a family and sports medicine physician at our Fontana Medical Center in California, to explain the study’s findings and share tips you can use to be less sedentary.


Q: What does heart failure mean?

A: Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle fails to pump blood properly to the all parts of your body. As a result, the body doesn’t get as much oxygen and nutrients as it should, which increases the risk of death.


Q: Why does this study matter and what should I do?

A: Getting just 30 minutes per day of physical activity, like walking, 5 days a week, is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. But we can’t stop there. This study shows that even people who meet that goal may be at risk of heart failure if they spend the rest of the day sitting. Even though the study involved men, the same principles apply to women as well.


Q: What are simple ways to get more physical activity?

A: Here are a few ideas you can try to reduce your sitting time, wherever you are:

  • Walk to your coworker’s desk instead of calling or emailing.
  • Use a headset on your phone so that during calls, you can walk or move around.
  • If possible, install a stand-up desk in your office.
  • Set an alarm on your phone that reminds you to get up at least once an hour.
  • Take the long route to the bathroom or water fountain to increase your time out of your chair.
  • When you’re watching TV, get up at each commercial break to march in place or climb the stairs.
  • After dinner, walk around the block with your family or dog.


TOPICSfitnessHeart Healthprevention