Sitting for longer hours at work may not be as bad for the heart as sitting while watching television, a study claims.
The study, led by researchers at Columbia University in the US, found that leisure-time sitting (while watching TV) was associated with a greater risk of heart disease and death.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also found that moderate-to-vigorous exercise may reduce or eliminate the harmful effects of sedentary television watching. "Our findings show that how you spend your time outside of work may matter more when it comes to heart health," study author Keith M Diaz said.
"Even if you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time, replacing the time you spend sitting at home with strenuous exercise could reduce your risk of heart disease and death," Diaz said.
For the study, the reseacrhers followed 3,592 people for almost 8.5 years. The participants reported how much time they typically spent sitting while watching TV and during work. They also reported how much time they spent exercising in their down time.
The participants who had logged the most TV-viewing hours (four or more hours a day) had a 50 per cent greater risk of cardiovascular events and death compared to those who watched the least amount of TV (less than two hours a day).
In contrast, those who sat the most at work had the same health risks as those who sat the least. Even for the most dedicated TV watchers, moderate to vigorous physical activity, such as walking briskly or doing aerobic exercise, reduced the risk of heart attacks, stroke, or death.
According to the study, no increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or death was seen in people who watched TV for four or more hours a day and engaged in 150 minutes or more of exercise a week.