A typical day about 10,000 years ago went something like this: Wake up, go out to hunt or gather, come back exhausted and sleep again, after a good meal. That is, if you’re not on the road traveling.
Today, Americans spend an average of 10 hours seated — in cars, at our desks, on our couches. A hunting and gathering foray only requires a few steps to the fridge or simply picking up the phone to order food. And then we sleep.
This transition to a sedentary life hasn’t been very good for our collective health, which includes our cardiovascular health.
To explain why sitting is called, “the new smoking,” when it comes to health risk factors, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at The Vein Institute at Upper East Side Cardiology take a closer look at the effects sitting has on your cardiovascular health.
Overall health effects of sitting
Since we’re a cardiovascular practice, we want to focus our discussion on the heart health ramifications of too much sitting, but it’s hard to ignore the overall effect that sitting can have on your health.
To give you an idea, a study by the American Cancer Society that included more than 127,000 people found that excessive sitting was linked to a higher risk of death, including eight of the top 10 causes of death in this country.
More specifically, sitting was linked to an increase in risk of death from:
- Coronary artery disease
- Kidney disease
- Lung disease
- Liver disease
As you can see, cardiovascular issues are in the line of fire when it comes to excessive sitting.
How sitting affects your cardiovascular health
Think of a car that hasn’t been used in a long time. The machine was meant to move but, in its sedentary state, the moving parts have frozen up, the fluids have hardened, and the exterior has cracked.
Now think of your body in the same way. The human body was designed for movement, and when you’re sedentary most of the time, a number of things can happen including:
- Sluggish blood flow that allows plaque to build up
- A slowdown or halt in your ability to process fat
- Increased insulin resistance
- Poor muscle health, including your heart muscle
When you’re moving, your blood is flowing, allowing all systems to function as they’re supposed to, from processing fat to filtering your blood. With excessive sitting, your heart loses strength and your blood vessels can weaken and narrow thanks to plaque buildup.
While heart disease is a primary concern, this excessive sitting can also lead to more minor issues, such as chronic venous insufficiency, which is the culprit behind varicose and spider veins.
The bottom line is that sitting for hours on end each day isn’t doing your health any favors. If you’d like to learn more about the effects sitting can have on your cardiovascular health, please call our New York City office on the Upper East Side at (212) 752-3464 to schedule a preventive cardiology visit today.