Walking may reverse damage of long-term sitting

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Sitting down for more than an hour can reduce femoral artery activity by about 50 percent.

Ahhhh… nothing feels better than coming home from school and morphing into a couch potato. Even though we’ve been sitting at our desks all day, there’s something much more inviting about reclining on plush seats for hours on end instead of a stiff school seat. If this sounds like something you do, you might want to rethink your after school routine.

After all, past studies have shown that vegging out in front of the TV is just as bad for your health as smoking, and lounging around is linked to several health problems. According to a new study, however, walking for a few minutes after every hour just might save you from heart-related complications.

Researchers studied 11 men who were not obese and had them sit down for 3 hours. While the participants sat motionless, the doctors analyzed their femoral artery – a large vessel in the upper thigh region that supplies most of the blood to our lower bodies. Given the vessel’s huge role, it’s pretty safe to say impairing its function would be a dangerous thing for our health, right? Well, get this: the doctors found that sitting for just one hour can reduce the artery’s ability to pump blood effectively by about 50 percent! Now, imagine the harm that can occur after sitting down all day for multiple days on end, and it’s no wonder why vegging out is just as bad as smoking.

Thankfully, the researchers also found that walking just five minutes after every hour of sitting can fend off permanent damage to the artery. In a second experiment, some men from the study were asked to walk on a treadmill after sitting for one hour. These same guys also had their femoral arteries measured at the 30-minute, 1.5-hour, and 2.5-hour time markers. Unlike the first trial, this time the major blood vessels maintained the same level of activity across all three measurements!

So, if there ever comes a time where you find yourself on your bum for multiple hours, be sure to sprinkle in some brisk walks.

Featured image courtesy of mrehan on Flickr. Image of sitting kids courtesy of Miguel Pires da Rosa on Wikimedia.