Research Alert

National and international guidelines recommend replacing the amount of time spent being sedentary with physical activity to improve health. This message is especially important in the face of COVID-19, as overall sedentary behaviors have increased substantially. In fact, research suggests that the average U.S. adult spends six hours per day sitting, four hours more than before the pandemic. The stress from COVID-19 has also led to sleep loss, sometimes called “coronasomnia.” While we know increasing physical activity, decreasing sedentary time and proper sleep are good for the heart, the effect of replacing sedentary time with physical activity or sleep are less clear. In this study, investigators used data from the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis (MESA) to understand the cardiovascular effects of replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of sleep or physical activity. They found that replacing sedentary time with sleep, light physical activity and moderate/vigorous physical activity all led to improvements in heart health. Results were similar when looking at men versus women. These findings highlight the importance of healthy lifestyle in improving heart health at a time when our nation needs it the most.

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