AHA: Sit less, move more

Heart of Dixie Cardiology
Jamison C. Jones, MD, F.A.C.C.

The new message from the American Heart Association is sit less, move more. As a Cardiologist we are constantly reminded of the devastating impact of a sedentary lifestyle. Until recently, what seems so obvious wasn’t emphasized by many physicians because it wasn’t proven in the scientific literature. In practice we see many anecdotes but have had no hard evidence that being sedentary was indeed harmful- by harmful I mean a shorter life with more disease. Evidence of this however has been slowly piling up for years. This week the American Heart Association published a scientific advisory statement confirming what many of us have believed. The more active you are the healthier you are.

Deborah Young, PhD, the chair of the scientific statement said “We know the evidence is highly suggestive that too much sitting or being sedentary is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.” For years at Heart of Dixie I have been recommending to my patients moderate exercise 30 minutes each day for 5 days a week or at least a total of 150 minutes per week. The AHA statement recommends the same but also adds that you can cut the time in half to 75 min per week if you engage in vigorous exercise.

The statement however takes an interesting twist suggesting there’s more to the story. It turns out that even if you exercise, your overall wellness is also impacted by what you do in between your exercise. On average, U.S. adults spend 6-8 hours of their day in sedentary time, older adults spend up to 9.6 hours a day in sedentary time. This sedentary time includes, sitting, reclining or laying down while awake. The research is showing that the more you engage in this sedentary time the more prone to disease you will be and the shorter your life will be.

As you develop your plan for wellness, remember to schedule at least 30 min each day for exercise, but don’t forget it doesn’t end there. Make changes in your life to become more active in general. Grow a garden, take the kids or grandkids to the park and play with them, keep that yard looking nice, go hiking or for a walk with friends. If you must sit for a large part of the day get up frequently and go for short walks. Remember being more active in general will help you improve your quality of life and overall emotional, mental and physical health!

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