Leading a sedentary lifestyle, including having a desk job, elevates the risk for heart failure. While the idea that being a couch potato can hinder a person’s overall health is fairly obvious, they are not the only people at risk. As jobs shift from more hands-on, physically demanding work to computer and technology jobs that are office-based, workers find themselves sitting for longer periods of time. Tight deadlines and late nights require people to spend far too many hours sitting at a desk or hunched over a laptop. People who sit down most of the day to perform their jobs are just as much at risk as couch potatoes.
A study by CA scientists at Kaiser Permanente was recently published in Circulation: Heart Failure, The American Heart Association’s journal. The study focused solely on men. The results show that sitting more than five hours a day increased their risk of heart failure by 34 percent. Considering the fact that people who have desk jobs often sit far longer than that, this news is significant in terms of preventing heart failure. Participants with higher activity levels had a lower risk level.
A separate study on women found similar results. Information was used from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study to find out how damaging it is for women to sit for long hours every day. They discovered that women who sat more than 10 hours per day increased their risk of heart disease. Furthermore, the risk is elevated in women who don’t exercise, those who are overweight or obese and women who are over 70. These results are a warning to those at a higher risk to take added precautions to maintain a healthy heart.
Signs of heart failure include fatigue, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, valve disease and a heart attack. All of these can occur when the body doesn’t get enough oxygen. These symptoms are not only associated with the elderly or inactive, however. Even those who exercise are at a higher risk for heart failure if they sit too long on a regular basis. Desk jobs are just as dangerous as watching TV for extended periods of time because they elevate their risk for heart failure.
Desk jobs may be unavoidable in certain lines of work, but they don’t need to lead to heart failure. Staying active outside of the office is vital. Physical fitness is the best way to protect the heart from damage. Small changes throughout the work day can also make a big difference. It is recommended that people get up at least once an hour. This can include climbing stairs to visit a restroom on another floor, taking a short walk around the office, stretching or even simply standing at the desk while working.
Both men and women with desk jobs have an elevated risk for heart disease. Sitting too long contributes to a sedentary lifestyle, which has long been associated with poor health. Daily exercise can’t undo the effects of sitting for long periods of time, but it is the best defense against heart failure.
By Tracy Rose