These exercise hacks help improve heart health in people with desk jobs

you can moan in headlines like “Sitting is the new smoking habit” or “Death in a chair.” But underneath the clickbait hysteria about sedentary lifestyles, there is a truth.

Uninterrupted periods of physical inactivity of six hours or more are as reliable a risk factor for premature death as obesity and smoking. Studies have linked that kind of idleness, pushed into a large part of the workforce through our information-centric laptop jockey economy, with an increased risk of death from a chronic health condition by 19 and up to 25 percent.

But, some casual behavior adjustments can help. In an interventional study published last month in the Journal of Science and Medicine in SportWhite-collar workers improved signs of cardiovascular and metabolic health by reducing their sitting time by 50 minutes a day for three months, through practices as simple as standing during a phone call or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Science in action — Researchers from the Turku PET Center in Finland recruited 64 adults (ages 40 to 65) with a sedentary lifestyle and metabolic syndrome. That’s an umbrella term for a number of common signs of less-than-optimal fitness: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or excess body fat. The participants had an average body mass index of 31.4, a bump into the “obese” range.

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About half of the participants acted as a control group and were told to continue working as usual. The other half, the intervention group, received personalized advice on how to include more standing or low-intensity physical activity in their daily routines, with the goal of adding one hour. New behaviors included using desks to sit and stand, standing during phone calls, and using stairs instead of elevators. (The study was completed before the Covid-19 pandemic when offices were still thriving.)

Both groups wore accelerometers on their waists to track physical activity. The intervention group, who received advice on tricks to exercise in the office, reduced their sitting time by an average of 50 minutes a day. The behavior of the control group did not change.

Why is it a trick? After three months, the group that decreased their sitting time had “significant” signs of better heart and metabolic health, compared to the previous three months, including better fasting insulin and better resting heart rate. They also had a modest decrease in body fat percentage of one percent, but no change in BMI or total weight.

How does this affect longevity: For a significant segment of the population, work is an obstacle to physical activity. One in four Americans say they spend 70 percent of their work time sitting down and the other 30 percent on physically “light” tasks.

Even if you get the amount of exercise recommended by the American Heart Association, there is evidence that long periods of inactivity increase your health risks.

Increases in the obesity rate began in the 1980s, an era of steep declines in manufacturing and mining jobs and growth in the retail and service fields. In fact, 83 percent of the jobs created in the US since 1950 have been white-collar jobs.

The so-called “obesity epidemic” has many possible causes, including the rise of fast food and infrastructure made for cars. But it also coincides with a change in work, when many were taken out of the fields and factories and put behind desks and counters.

Even if you get the amount of exercise recommended by the American Heart Association, there is evidence that long periods of inactivity increase your health risks.

So, as much as the image of Dwight Shute moving around in a fitness orb might conjure up, it’s probably worth finding ways to fit little fitness routines into the workday, or at least get up for a bit.

Hack Score – Five out of ten jog to the cooler 🥛🥛🥛🥛🥛

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