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New Research Shows Any Activity, Even Sleeping, Benefits Heart Health

Replacing sitting with moderate to vigorous activity has a positive effect on heart health, according to British Heart Foundation study.

Any activity is better for your heart than sitting – even sleeping, according to new research.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) study, published in the European Heart Journal, is the first to assess how movement behavior across the day is associated with heart health.

Any activity is better for your heart than sitting – even sleeping, according to new research. KAROLINA GRABOWSKA/PEXELS

Dr. Jo Blodgett said: “The big takeaway from our research is that while small changes to how you move can have a positive effect on heart health, intensity of movement matters.

“The most beneficial change we observed was replacing sitting with moderate to vigorous activity – which could be a run, a brisk walk, or stair climbing – basically any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, even for a minute or two.”

Their research found that time spent doing moderate-vigorous activity provided the most benefit to heart health, followed by light activity, standing and sleeping.

As little as five minutes of moderate-vigorous activity had a noticeable effect on heart health.

Even small changes such as using a standing desk rather than sitting could make an impact on your heart health over time.

Professor Mark Hamer said: “Though it may come as no surprise that becoming more active is beneficial for heart health, what’s new in this study is considering a range of behaviors across the whole 24-hour day.

Any activity is better for your heart than sitting – even sleeping, according to new research. KENNY ELIASON/UNSPLASH

“This approach will allow us to ultimately provide personalized recommendations to get people more active in ways that are appropriate for them.”

Improving heart health is extremely important as cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of mortality globally, having been responsible for one in three deaths in 2021.

In fact, since 1997 the number of people living with cardiovascular disease has doubled.

Associate Medical Director of the BHF Professor James Leiper said: “We already know that exercise can have real benefits for your cardiovascular health and this encouraging research shows that small adjustments to your daily routine could lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

“This study shows that replacing even a few minutes of sitting with a few minutes of moderate activity can improve your BMI, cholesterol, waist size, and have many more physical benefits.

“Getting active isn’t always easy, and it’s important to make changes that you can stick to in the long-term and that you enjoy – anything that gets your heart rate up can help.

“Incorporating ‘activity snacks’ such as walking while taking phone calls or setting an alarm to get up and do some star jumps every hour is a great way to start building activity into your day, to get you in the habit of living a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Replacing just thirty minutes of daily sitting or lying time with moderate or vigorous exercise could translate into a 2.5 cm decrease in waist circumference, giving even more reason to avoid the sofa.

To get these results, scientists conducted six studies, looking at 15,246 people from five countries using a wearable device to examine six common indicators.

Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis added: “A key novelty of the ProPASS consortium is the use of wearable devices that better differentiate between types of physical activity and posture, allowing us to estimate the health effects of even subtle variations with greater precision.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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