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Why sitting can be harmful to your health

And what you can do about it

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Excessive sitting can be harmful to your health. According to researchers, even exercising on a daily basis may not be enough to thwart the effects of too much sitting during the rest of the day. So what should you do if you’re a student or have a job that keeps you sitting? Theresa Gracik, director of the University of Michigan Preventive Cardiology Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, recommends that you get up once an hour to move around, stretch, climb a set of stairs or visit a co-worker’s office instead of emailing her — anything to get your body moving.

More than 2 hours per day of screen time can double heart attack risk

“Even if you participate in a regular workout routine, it’s critical to move around throughout the day,” says Gracik. “Whenever possible, stand instead of sit.”

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the human body is made up of approximately 640 muscles and 206 bones, which are made to move. Yet, we live in an environment that promotes sedentary behaviors. A key culprit is recreational screen time — whether it’s spent in front of a television or computer.

In a study of 4,512 Scottish men, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, those who spent two-plus hours a day in front of a screen were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than those who didn’t. Further, those who spent four-plus hours were 50 percent more likely to die of any cause. According to the study, the statistics were unaffected by whether or not the men said they exercised on a regular basis.

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University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Logo - blueThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit the Heart and Vascular page on UofMHealth.org.