If you sit for this long each day, you’re risking a stroke

• New research found that adults under 60 who spend most of their day sitting have an increased risk of stroke.
• If you sit for over eight hours and don’t exercise, your risk of suffering a stroke is seven times higher than people who stay seated for half that time.
• Even an office job doesn’t have to be so sedentary.

Though so many of us have perfected the art of doing everything from our couch, sitting for eight hours or more per day is not the way to lead a healthy life.

Whether you’re stuck to your chair at the office or working from your couch remotely, adults under 60 who spend most of their day sitting have an increased risk of stroke compared to those who spend more time adding in physical activity, according to a new study.

People who reported eight or more hours of leisure time — like using a computer, watching TV or reading — and avoided exercise were seven times more at risk of suffering a stroke than people who spent four hours sitting and getting in just 10 minutes of exercise each day.

“Sedentary time is increasing in the United States and Canada,” study author Dr. Raed A. Joundi, a stroke fellow in the department of clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary, said. “It is important to understand whether high amounts of sedentary time can lead to stroke in young individuals, as a stroke can cause premature death or significantly impair function and quality of life.”

Sitting leads to stroke

The study, published in the journal Stroke by the American Heart Association, featured data from 143,000 adults aged 40 and over with no history of stroke, heart disease, or cancer. Participants were followed for an average of 9.4 years, according to researchers.

Sedentary activates like computer use, reading and watching TV were added up, and researchers also measured how much physical activity participants were getting.

Adults 60 and younger who did little physical activity and reported eight or more hours of sedentary leisure time per day had four times higher risk of stroke compared to those who spent less than four hours sitting down. In addition, those who spent eight or more hours of sitting daily and received little physical activity had seven times higher risk of stroke than the group that averaged less than four hours of sedentary time a day and had higher levels of exercise.

“Adults 60 years and younger should be aware that very high sedentary time with little time spent on physical activity can have adverse effects on health, including increased risk of stroke,” Joundi said. “Physical activity has a very important role in that it reduces the actual time spent sedentary, and it also seems to diminish the negative impact of excess sedentary time.”

Exercise you can do today

The correlation between extended periods of sitting and poor health isn’t a new discovery — and it’s one that you can fix on your own.

Previous research has found that prolonged sitting in women increased blood pressure, body fat, cancer risk, and mortality rates. Even if you are active enough, it’s not a surefire way to reduce the risk of developing heart problems.

Either way, if you’re someone who’s been bogged down at home during the pandemic and sitting more than usual, taking small breaks during the day where you make a point of taking a walk is an effective way of breaking lup long sedentary periods.

It’s recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. That could include going to the gym a few times a week or even engaging in leisure activities such as gardening, tennis, biking, or brisk walking.