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Heart Association Report: Exercising More, Sitting Less Reduces Heart Failure Risk in Men

Data support recommendation of at least 2.5 hours of aerobic activity per week (January 21)

Sitting for long periods increases the risk of heart failure in men, even for those who exercise regularly, according to new research published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

Preventing heart failure, researchers found, requires a two-part behavioral approach: high levels of physical activity plus low levels of sedentary time. The study is the first to examine the link between heart failure risk and sedentary time, said lead investigator Deborah Rohm Young, PhD.

The researchers followed a racially diverse group of 84,170 men aged 45 to 69 years without heart failure. Exercise levels were calculated in metabolic equivalents of task (METs), a measure of the body’s energy use. Sedentary levels were measured in hours. After an average follow-up period of nearly 8 years, the researchers found:

  • Men with low levels of physical activity were 52% more likely to develop heart failure than were men with high physical activity levels, even after adjusting for differences in sedentary time.
  • Outside of work, men who spent 5 or more hours a day sitting were 34% more likely to develop heart failure than were men who spent no more than 2 hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised.
  • The risk of heart failure more than doubled in men who sat for at least 5 hours a day and got little exercise compared with men who were very physically active and sat for 2 hours or less a day.

The study supports the AHA recommendation that people get at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity to reduce their risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, Young said.

Source: AHA; January 21, 2014.

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