A new study finds that any activity is better for heart health than sitting.
Scientists often pointed out the negative health effects of sitting for long periods of time. But a new study has shown that even sleeping is much more beneficial for heart health than sitting.
The study found that any activity, from running to napping, can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke compared to sitting for long periods of time.
Adequate sleep has been found to have beneficial effects on BMI and waist measurements; Experts suggest this may be due to less time being allocated for unhealthy activities such as snacking.
It was also stated that exercise is the best way to protect heart health, and changing the time spent sitting can lower cholesterol levels, lead to a healthier weight and smaller waist sizes.
EXERCISE INTENSITY IS ALSO IMPORTANT
The new study, conducted by University College London and the University of Sydney, involved 15,253 people across five countries who were using devices that measured their activity levels 24 hours a day.
The study found that replacing 30 minutes of sitting a day with 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise was highly effective on people with lower body weights. When exercise replaced as little as six minutes of sedentary behavior, cholesterol levels improved, but more exercise was better.
Blood sugar levels were lower if people spent more time exercising, standing or sleeping rather than being sedentary, according to findings published in the European Heart Journal.
The results also showed that vigorous exercise such as running, speed cycling, football or tennis was much more effective and beneficial. These sports were followed by light exercise, such as brisk walking or cleaning, followed by sleeping or standing.
EVEN SMALL CHANGES ARE EFFECTIVE
Dr Jo Blodgett from UCL said: “The biggest takeaway from our research is that although small changes to the way you move can have a positive impact on heart health, the intensity of movement matters. The most beneficial change we observed is; “The idea was to replace sitting with moderate to vigorous activity (whether it’s running, jogging, or climbing stairs) with any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, even for a minute or two.”
Although time spent in intense activity is the fastest way to improve heart health, small changes can also have an impact if done over longer periods of time, the researchers noted.
James Leiper, from the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: “Being active isn’t always easy and it’s important to make changes you enjoy that you can stick to in the long term; “Anything that gets your heart rate up can help.”