It might seem like common sense that inactive people have a greater risk for heart disease than active people, but a new study has measured the risk in terms of time spent in front of a computer, according to the Deccan Herald.
The study, out of the University College London, confirms that time spent at a computer is as damaging to the heart as time spent lounging in front of a television screen. People who work on computers or watch television for four or more hours a day are 125 percent more likely to suffer a major heart problem than those who spend two hours or less.
That's bad news for anyone who spends their 9-to-5 job working on a computer. Even worse, the study also found a 48 percent increase in deaths from any cause among people who spent excessive time staring at a computer or television screen.
The results were consistent even among individuals who spent time every day exercising, meaning that exercise during other hours could not reverse the damage caused by extended inactivity.
"Our analysis suggests that two or more hours of screen time each day may place someone at greater risk for a cardiac event," said Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis, who led the study. "People who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen are more likely to die of any cause and suffer heart-related problems."
Researchers noted that prolonged sitting can cause a 90 percent reduction in a heart-healthy enzyme, lipoprotein lipase, which could explain the results. Inflammation and metabolic problems caused by long periods of inactivity are undoubtedly also to blame.
The report advised anyone who sits on their computer for extended periods of time to take breaks for a brief walk every 20 minutes.
"A totally feasible and realistic redesign of the workplace and home environments can easily convert long periods of time during the workday that currently are strictly sedentary into a mixture of sitting, standing and light intensity activity," said Stamatakis.
In other words, the key to reducing risk is to break up time spent being sedentary with periodic exercise rather than just setting aside a later block of time in the day for that exercise. And if you spend your work day at the computer, definitely don't go home and spend the rest of your day in front of the television.