Get Up, Stand Up

Stand up, move around more to benefit your heart and waistline

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Too much sitting isn't good for you, as everyone knows. But the amount of time you spend sitting without breaks of activity can also negatively impact your heart health, according to a new study.

According to new research from the University of Queensland, Australia, individuals should take breaks from sitting often -- even for short, minute-long intermissions -- as these mini-bursts of activity appears to benefit cardiovascular health and slim waistlines in the process.

The study is the first large, representative, multi-ethnic population analysis to compare total time spent sitting and breaks in sedentary time to a host of health effects, including cardio-metabolic diseases and inflammatory processes that can lead to atherosclerosis (clogged or "hardened" arteries).

The study followed 4,757 individuals aged 20 and over, who took part in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006. Researchers found extended periods of sedentary time, even in people who engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise, were linked to heightened indicators of cardio-metabolic function and inflammation. More sedentary time correlated with larger waist circumference, lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, higher degrees of inflammation and elevated triglycerides (a type of blood fat).

The more breaks participants took from sitting, the smaller their waist lines and the lower their levels of inflammation indicators were.

Ethnic disparities were reported, with longer sedentary times negatively affecting waist circumferences in non-Hispanic whites only, while these longer periods of sitting did not adversely affect waist circumference in Hispanic and even appeared to benefit non-Hispanic blacks.

On average, however, the top 25 percent of participants who took the most breaks had 4.1 cm smaller waistlines. Slimmer waistlines are associated with greater cardiovascular and metabolic health, generally.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 13, 2011
Last Updated:
January 13, 2011