Inactive Lifestyles Hurt Heart Health

By Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, St. George's University
April 9, 2019

Heart disease kills more than 600,000 Americans and costs the country about $200 billion each year.[1][2]

Many of these deaths could be prevented if people simply exercised more. One in four Americans sits for more than eight hours each day.[3] Less than a quarter meet the federal exercise guidelines.[4]

Plenty of research shows that inactive lifestyles can lead to heart problems. Consider one analysis by researchers in the United Kingdom. Researchers examined 18 studies that included nearly 800,000 people. They found that people who sat for much of the day were nearly 150 percent more likely to suffer from a cardiovascular event — like a heart attack or stroke — than people who are constantly on their feet.[5]

Another study published in the European Heart Journal found similar results. The researchers studied individuals at a low risk of heart disease over a ten-year period. The analysis found that the quarter of people with the lowest fitness levels were twice as likely to experience a cardiovascular event as those in the quartile with the highest fitness levels.[6]

Thankfully, simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Taking regular walks can reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by more than 30 percent.[7] A report from Binghamton University found that, among women, frequent walking can reduce heart disease risk in a matter of weeks.[8]

Recent research from St. George’s proves that strength-training can also improve heart health. After analyzing the activity and health of more than 4,000 adults, researchers found that lifting weights reduced blood pressure, diabetes risk, and weight — all of which can contribute to the risk of heart disease.[9]

Our research institute, WINDREF, proudly offers a “Sports for Health” program. This initiative involves community-based exercise programs that educate the Grenadian and Eastern Caribbean communities about the importance of physical activity, the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle, and the burden of chronic disease.[10]

Adopting a more active lifestyle can ward off heart problems. It’s time to get up and get moving.

 

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_disease.htm

[3] http://time.com/5459319/americans-sit-too-much/

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr112.pdf

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22890825

[6] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324192.php

[7] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health

[8] https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/sc-brisk-walking-heart-disease-health-0201-20170119-story.html

[9] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181116135957.htm ; https://nypost.com/2018/11/19/lifting-weights-is-better-for-your-heart-than-cardio-study/

[10] https://www.sgu.edu/news-and-events/sport-health-launched-grenada/

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