Increased Sedentary Behaviour and Heart Disease

Have you been lucky enough to work from home in recent months? As we spend more time hunched in front of screens and seated for hours without movement, the risk of cardiovascular health deterioration also increases. The problem is complicated in nature, as noted in recent studies including those for the American Journal of Psychology, largely because our bodies’ natural requirements do anything but promote sedentary behaviour.

Today, let’s explore the subject by focusing on the two most critical components of heart health.

Optimal Blood and Oxygen Flow is Essential

The human body is not a potted plant; the cardiovascular system alone consists of many highly intricate and sensitive components that demand flexibility and natural movement. This is ergonomics 101. A critical necessity is that blood flow should remain stimulated as much as possible, reducing the risk of vascular complications such as clots. You won’t benefit much from an office chair with basic lumbar support and a thick, foamy cushion, especially if it isn’t rated for long hours of “safe” usage. While alternatives such as the Herman Miller Embody chair are scientifically proven to promote proper spinal health and even potentially improve thinking, not everyone can afford such a solution. It also doesn’t completely mitigate the risk of heart complications, even if blood flow and heart rate is improved, and especially if you are sedentary all day when working from home. An adjustable standing desk can help here as well, but we still need to get up and move around frequently.

Stay Active, Stay Healthy

To perform at your best, you need to feel it as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) is quoted as stating that “You need at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week” in order to be considered an active individual. In addition, recent studies have tested the reduction of physical activity in several volunteer subjects. The results weren’t pretty; increased inflammation and blood sugar levels as well as structural cardiovascular alterations, the latter of which occur over longer sedentary periods and are more challenging to reverse. Companies such as Fitbit have also been chiming in on the matter, reminding us to move and schedule work breaks. Working from home shouldn’t require that we stop looking after ourselves – if protecting your heart health means one less Zoom meeting, then so be it!

All in all, it has never been more important to remember how sensitive the cardiovascular system is. Sitting for extended periods is a relatively new phenomenon; evolution hasn’t caught up quickly enough to meet the new temporary normal. Therefore, be sure to put your health first and step away from that desk every so often, invest in quality ergonomic solutions that stop your body from staying completely still, and practice those stretches!

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