Porter Regional Hospital: Is Sitting All Day Killing You?

porter-womanstretchingWhether watching television, sitting at a computer or commuting, our sitting habits affect our heart health — even if we exercise regularly.

More than half of us engage in sedentary activity every day — and this lack of movement may be killing us. High levels of sedentary activity double your risk for cardiovascular disease, and too much sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol.

When you sit, your muscles burn less fat, and your blood flows more slowly. This means the fatty acid in the blood can more easily damage your arteries. One 2015 study from the Medical College of Wisconsin found that each hour of sitting correlated to a 14 percent increase in your coronary artery calcium score, a measure of coronary artery disease.

Slow blood flow while you sit can have other negative effects on your circulatory system, including fluid accumulation in the legs. This is linked to swollen ankles, varicose veins and blood clots.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that health issues were more prevalent in those who were sedentary and did not exercise, but even those who exercised as much as an hour a day saw negative health effects from sitting.

So Long, Sitting
In addition to regular exercise, find ways to reduce the time spent sitting during the day to improve your health. The key is to change your routine: Find ways to incorporate movement into your daily schedule.

Set an alarm to remind yourself to take two-to-three minute walking breaks every half hour during your work day.

Stretching is also a good way to reduce your sitting time while improving blood flow. Kneel on your hands and feet, and alternate arching your back with your head down and bending your back with your head up (the cat and cow positions in yoga).

If you want to improve blood flow to your feet but don’t have time for a stretch break, try rotating your ankles for 30 seconds clockwise, then switching directions for another 30 seconds.

Saying Yes to Socks
When shopping for the latest fashions, compression socks don’t always make the top of the must-buy list. However, these garments can benefit more than just athletes and people with peripheral artery disease.

Those who have to stand or sit for long periods of time — whether for work in retail, nursing or teaching or while traveling — may find that compression socks can reduce the risk for problems, including:

  • common
  • edema or pain in the legs
  • fatigue
  • varicose veins

Talk with your doctor about whether or not you could benefit from using compression socks and what kind are best for you. Gradient stockings are generally effective at preventing exhaustion and swelling, while thromboembolic deterrent socks have an even distribution of pressure. Over-the-counter options are available for those who need gentle support, while a prescription may be needed for the strongest compression levels.

To find a doctor who meets your health needs, visit www.PorterPhysicianGroup.com or call (844) PPG-DOCS (774-3627).