Many young professionals have gym memberships so that they can hit the gym before work to combat all the eight hours of sitting they’re about to do. Others have workout equipment in their houses, so they can hit the gym whenever.
The bottom line is–an inactive lifestyle is unhealthy and we all know it. In fact, 25% of deaths per year are caused by heart disease, and 6% of heart disease is related to a lack of physical activity. This same lack of activity is responsible for early 11% of early deaths. So being active is a matter of life and death.
However, studies have yet to make a positive link between going to the gym and a decreased risk of heart disease in people who lead mainly sedentary lives. This means that you can go to the gym and do a hardcore workout at the end of an eight hour work day, but that might not be able to combat the negative side-effects of sitting for most of your waking hours.
This is why there has been a new wave of workplace-friendly exercise machines such as treadmill desks, exercise bike desks and other ideas like walking meetings. The idea is that your body will burn fat faster and keep your heart healthier as you exert continuous energy throughout the day.
The American Journal of Physiology–Endocrinology and Metabolism has recently compared gym-goers who sit most of the day with gym-goers who typically live more active lifestyles. The study revealed that doing one workout and sitting for the rest of the day is not as beneficial as going for frequent walks during the day to break up the time you spend sitting at work.
In the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, they asked seven healthy young men to wear health monitors and spend four days being active and four days being sedentary. On their active days, they walked around 17,000 steps per day and spend roughly eight hours sitting. When they were supposed to be sedentary, they sat for about 14 hours.
The volunteers were then told to eat a breakfast high in sugar on the morning after they had done an hour-long run the night before. The researchers noted that after the men had been active for four days, their bodies were more successful at reducing the level of triglycerides, or the fats that enter the bloodstream after eating a meal, present after their sugary breakfast.
However, after the four sedentary days, their bodies did not respond as well and hardly reduced the high levels of triglycerides in their blood. The researchers concluded that the act of sitting for as many as 14 hours can in fact counteract the benefits of exercise, even daily exercise.
The positive effects of physical activity are tenfold when it comes to your heart health. It has the more medical benefits of lowering your blood pressure, keeping cholesterol at a healthy level, as well as regulating your blood sugar. Not to mention that exercise also helps the circulation of blood in your body. If you’re so focused on your other muscles, why not focus on the one that keeps you alive? Your heart is in need of just as much care.
Other benefits of daily activity are reduced stress and anxiety, weight loss, better sleep, and a better metabolism. If you have other already diagnosed heart issues, some activity can help improve your symptoms, but it’s usually best to check with a doctor first if you have an existing heart condition.