Researchers have suggested that being sedentary represents a potential risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions. The American Heart Association published on Monday new findings that demonstrate the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle even among active people.  

Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., director of behavioral research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, in Pasadena, published a science advisory to alert people that doing exercise will not counteract the effects of sedentary behaviors. The statement reads that sedentary habits might be linked to an increased risk of developing heart conditions, diabetes, and other fatal diseases. The lead author of the new scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, suggested that prolonged sedentary time may have an adverse impact on the heart condition and blood vessels, even if people exercise sometimes.

83 million Americans are living a sedentary lifestyle, according to statistics carried out by the Physical Activity Council. Image credit:

Young added that sedentary time has been overstated for a very long time and the fact of spending excessive time sitting, even after spending a significant time working out, could represent a risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The Heart Association’s team of experts said their results are not conclusive, but suggestive. The lack of sufficient data to propose quantitative guidelines requires scientists to promote physical activity.

“There are many important factors we don’t understand about sedentary time yet. The types of studies available identify trends but don’t prove cause and effect. We don’t have information about how much sedentary behavior is bad for health—the best advice at this time is to ‘sit less and move more,” remarked Young.

The key is regularity  

The team of scientists recommends people to engage in regular vigorous exercise instead of long working out sessions. Considering that there is not enough evidence pointing out how much physical activity is needed to block the effects of sedentary time, researchers advise Americans to try to complete 30 minutes or so of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.

Physical activity
Americans should make at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. Image credit:

The American Heart Association suggests that Americans should make 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise during the week. The key to change a sedentary lifestyle is to be consistent with physical activity instead of submitting the body to one or two exhausting exercises’ sessions.

Researchers concluded that the adult population in the U.S. has sedentary habits for about six to eight hours a day. Americans aged 60 and older spend between 8.5 to 9.6 hours a day in sedentary time, as per Young.

Keeping in mind the suggestive nature of the statement, Young pointed out that further research needs to be conducted before stating what kind of activities are required to replace sedentary time with exercise.

Reading, watching TV, spending time in front of the computer and driving are considered as sedentary activities that do not produce the required energy expenditure (more than 1.5 levels) in metabolic equivalents.

Source: The American Heart Association