Want to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Failure? All You Have to Do Is Sit Less, a New Study Says

A new study suggests that those over 50 who keep their sedentary activities to a minimum of four-and-a-half hours each day can decrease their risk of heart failure by half.

Eating a nutrient-rich diet (and one that's low in salts and saturated fats) along with increasing antioxidant intake (try eating more leafy greens) are a couple of ways to keep your heart healthy at any age. Another way to reduce your risk of heart problems? The American Heart Association released a new study that says that women over the age of 50 who avoid sedentary activities will significantly boost their heart health. In fact, the association explains that only allowing four-and-a-half hours of sitting-centric activities each day can help decrease risks of heart failure by over 50 percent.

"For heart failure prevention, we need to promote taking frequent breaks from prolonged sitting or lying down, in addition to trying to achieve guideline levels of physical activity, such as those recommended by the American Heart Association," Dr. Michael LaMonte, research associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Buffalo, said in a statement. "Very few studies have been published on sedentary time and heart failure risk, and even fewer have focused on older women in whom both sedentary behavior and heart failure are quite common."

senior woman walking outdoors
Courtney Hale / Getty Images

The association team studied 81,000 post-menopausal women who never experienced heart issues and continued their experiment by divvying up the participants based on how sedentary they were in their day-to-day lives. After nine years, a total of 1,402 of the women were hospitalized because of heart failure. Those who spent over eight-and-a-half hours sitting each day had a 54 percent more risk of experiencing a hart attack than the women who sat for four-and-a-half hours or less. Plus, the women who sat or lied down for over nine-and-a-half hours every day had more than a 40 percent chance risk of heart failure that the study participants who spent less than six-and-a-half hours sitting or lying down.

"These findings are consistent with other studies confirming that people with more daily sedentary time are more likely to develop chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and premature death from heart disease and other causes," LaMonte said. "Our message is simple: Sit less and move more. Historically, we have emphasized promoting a physically active lifestyle for heart health—and we should continue to do so! However, our study clearly shows that we also need to increase efforts to reduce daily sedentary time and encourage adults to frequently interrupt their sedentary time. This does not necessarily require an extended bout of physical activity; it might simply be standing up for five minutes or standing and moving one's feet in place." While LaMonte explained that more research will help find out the best way to avoid extended sitting periods, taking steps during household activities is a great start for boosting heart wellness and healthy aging.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles