Spending your leisure time stretched out in front of the box isn't just bad news for your social life – it's toxic for your health, too. That's according to a new American Heart Association study that set out to trace an increased stroke risk to your time spent parked.
People who reported spending their spare time sitting for eight or more hours each day were seven times more likely to have a stroke than those who spent fewer than four hours being sedentary, their research, published in the journal Stroke, concluded.
Analysing health data from the Canadian Community Health Survey spanning 143,000 adults, the researchers followed the participants, all aged 40 years and older with no prior history of stroke or heart disease, for an average of 9.4 years. During that period, there were 2,965 strokes reported – 90 per cent were ischemic strokes, the most common type.
The scientists reviewed the amount of time people spent partaking in leisure sedentary activities – on the computer, reading and watching TV – and also their physical activity, with the lowest category of physical activity equivalent to going for a walk for 10 minutes or less. Those who sat the longest and exercised the least were the most likely to have a stroke. (continued below)
"Adults 60 years and younger should be aware that very high sedentary time with little time spent on physical activity can have adverse effects on health, including increased risk of stroke," said study author Raed Joundi, MD, DPhil, a stroke fellow in the department of clinical neurosciences at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Canada.
"Physical activity has a very important role in that it reduces the actual time spent sedentary, and it also seems to diminish the negative impact of excess sedentary time," he said. "Physician recommendations and public health policies should emphasise increased physical activity and lower sedentary time among young adults in combination with other healthy habits to lower the risks of cardiovascular events and stroke."
Nearly nine in 10 strokes could be attributed to "modifiable risk factors", like overtly-sedentary lifestyles, previous research has shown. So, if you tend to spend most of your evening slumped on the sofa, take heed: reducing the amount of time you spend on your rear could literally save your life.
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