Blood pressure drops if you sit less

Blood pressure drops if you sit less

We knew that a sedentary lifestyle was an enemy of health. Sitting for a long time can put a strain on our metabolism: the absence of movement reduces muscle activity, leading to a decrease in tone and loss of strength. Muscles, when not activated regularly, become less efficient at burning calories and regulating blood sugar levels, potentially contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes. Plus, lack of movement slows blood flow, which results in in an increased risk of developing heart problems, with worse circulation and an increase in blood pressure. This is why changing this habit, even with small precautions, can make the difference, especially when you get older.

Advantages even for the laziest

Further confirmation comes from the international study Resources to Thriveaccording to which spending less time sitting or lying down can help reduce blood pressure in people over 60. And to have beneficial results, a reduction in sedentary behavior of just 30 minutes a day is enough, even more evident if you already suffer from hypertension.
The study, published on Jama Network Open , wanted to examine the effectiveness of reducing sitting to improve blood pressure based on age, weight, body mass index and waist circumference. The results speak clearly: it doesn’t take much to reduce heart risks and even the laziest can benefit from three “helps”. It’s about doing health coaching, having a high desk at home to use while standing and wearing a fitness tracker, which alerts us when it’s time to do some exercise.

Health risk

Sedentary behavior, defined as sitting or lying without exercising, watching TV, reading or resting, is equivalent to spending time with low energy expenditure, with a health risk independent of the physical activity that can be done during other hours of the day. This is because “moderate to vigorous activity can certainly benefit physical, cognitive, emotional and functional health. However, within the guidelines, older adults typically sit for 65-80% of their waking hours, which has negative health effects, worsening type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems and even mortality,” he explains. Dori Rosenberg of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.
“Reducing or stopping time spent sitting leads to an improvement in blood pressure, particularly for those with high blood pressure. And, given that the prevalence of hypertension is greater than 74% in adults over the age of 60, improving this risk factor is critical to keeping cardiovascular disease under control and reducing mortality.”

The experiment on hypertensives

The experiment, conducted on 283 people with an average age of 68 years, of which more than half with a clear diagnosis of high blood pressure, to the point of taking at least one antihypertensive drug daily, revealed a decrease of at least 3.48 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure, recorded in six months of a slightly more active life, following the indications of the wrist tracker and choosing to sit a little less in moments of relaxation or reading.
In particular, the motivational success of the so-called “I-stand” emerged, a socio-cognitive theory on habit formation which involves 10 short consultancy contacts (telephone health coaching) in six months, aimed at creating greater awareness. This is because several studies have found that self-assessment of sitting time differs from reality. From a review over 30 years of scientific literature it emerges that, even if the average self-reported sedentary lifestyle is 5.3 hours a day, in reality it reaches up to 9.4 hours. Coaching has pushed older people to be more motivated and to sit less, leading them to lead healthier lives, also in terms of prevention, nutrition and sleep.
Encouraging an active lifestyle and reducing sedentary lifestyle is crucial for older adults. This requires a holistic approach that includes not only increasing physical activity, but promoting healthy behaviors and access to opportunities for support and motivation. “Older adults may face significant barriers to undertaking sufficient amounts of physical activity,” he concludes David Dunstan of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute –. These results confirm that sitting less can successfully reduce blood pressure, commensurate with the effects of aerobic physical activity.”

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