BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s not easy to be on your feet all day in your elder years, but the American Heart Association warns that older women who spend too much time sitting down are at a greater risk of heart troubles. A recent study reveals that women over 50 can cut their risk for heart failure in half by keeping sedentary activities to under 4.5 hours daily.
The study suggests that women can be highly physically active and still run an increased risk of being hospitalized with heart failure due to being sedentary for most of the day.
“For heart failure prevention, we need to promote taking frequent breaks from prolonged sitting or lying down, in addition to trying to achieve guideline levels of physical activity, such as those recommended by the American Heart Association,” says Dr. Michael LaMonte, research associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Buffalo, in a statement. “Very few studies have been published on sedentary time and heart failure risk, and even fewer have focused on older women in whom both sedentary behavior and heart failure are quite common.”
Researchers examined the records of almost 81,000 post-menopausal women who had never had a heart issue and divided the healthy and able-bodied participants into groups based on how much time they spent being sedentary.
About nine years later, 1,402 women had been hospitalized due to heart failure. The women who sat more than 8.5 hours a day had a 54 percent higher risk for a heart attack than those who reported sitting less than 4.5 hours per day. Furthermore, participants who reported sitting or lying down for more than 9.5 a day had a 42 percent higher risk than those who spent less than 6.5 hours per day sitting or lying down.
“These findings are consistent with other studies confirming that people with more daily sedentary time are more likely to develop chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and premature death from heart disease and other causes,” says LaMonte. “Our message is simple: Sit less and move more. Historically, we have emphasized promoting a physically active lifestyle for heart health – and we should continue to do so! However, our study clearly shows that we also need to increase efforts to reduce daily sedentary time and encourage adults to frequently interrupt their sedentary time. This does not necessarily require an extended bout of physical activity; it might simply be standing up for five minutes or standing and moving one’s feet in place.
“We do not have sufficient evidence on the best approach to recommend for interrupting sedentary time,” LaMonte continues. “However, accumulating data suggest that habitual activities such as steps taken during household and other activities of daily living are an important aspect of cardiovascular disease prevention and healthy aging.”
SWNS writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.