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Physical Activity can Reduce the Effects of Sedentary Behaviors

Update Date: Jul 14, 2014 09:25 AM EDT

Sedentary behaviors, such as watching TV or playing video games, can be detrimental to one's health. Several studies have reported that these behaviors can increase one's risk of developing conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. In a new study, researchers found that being physically active can reduce the effects of sedentary behaviors.

 "The association between prolonged sedentary time and obesity and blood markers associated with cardiovascular disease is markedly less pronounced when taking fitness into account," the press release reported.

The research team from the American Cancer Society, The Cooper Institute and the University of Texas set out to see if being physically fit could prevent or prolong the adverse side effects of sedentary behaviors. The researchers, headed by Kerem Shuval, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society, examined 1,302 men who had received care from the Cooper Clinic located in Dallas, TX from 1981 to 2012. Information regarding the patients' sedentary behaviors, level of physical activity, overall fitness, obesity and metabolic biomarkers were measured.

The researchers found that people who were less active had higher levels of systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides. They had lower levels of "good" cholesterol scientifically known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL). When the researchers examined people who were physically active, they found that their sedentary behaviors were only tied to a higher ratio of triglycerides/HDL cholesterol, which is an indicator of insulin resistance. For active people, sedentary behavior was not tied to metabolic syndrome, which is a group of factors that increases one's risk of several diseases. Active people also had lower levels of adiposity and metabolic measures.

"[A]lthough our findings suggest the need to encourage achieving higher levels of fitness through meeting physical activity guidelines to decrease metabolic risk...the effects of reducing sedentary time on cardiometabolic risk biomarkers warrant further longitudinal exploration using objective measurement," the researchers concluded.

The study, "Sedentary Behavior, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Physical Activity, and Cardiometabolic Risk in Men: The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study," was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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