It’s not uncommon for people to spend half of their waking day sitting.1
We know that sitting time is an independent risk factor for heart disease, but why might that be? Well, it seems it’s not just our muscles that are idle when we sit, blood flow through our legs slows down significantly too.2
This could be a problem because when blood flow drops, so too does friction along the blood vessel walls. This causes cells lining the walls to start to pump out proteins that over time can cause hardening and narrowing of the arteries. When blood flow increases, blood vessels may remain stiff, increasing blood pressure and raising the risk for atherosclerosis.3
There is some good news. After prolonged sitting, you can restore blood flow with a relatively low-intensity bout of activity such as a 10-minute walk.2 Better still, interrupt your sitting more frequently – moving if only for a couple of minutes every hour is way better than staying seated for the duration.
- Hamilton MY et al. Diabetes 2007: 56(11): 2655-67.
- Restaino RM et al. Exp Physiol 2015; 100(7): 829-38.
- Morishima T et al. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2016; 311(1): H177-82.