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Wisconsin cardiologist helps investigate link between inactivity, heart problems

Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio

A study conducted by cardiologists from Wisconsin and Texas indicates inactivity takes a toll on the heart and can even offset the good effects of exercise.

While common risk factors for heart disease include smoking and high blood pressure, there's increasing evidence that too much sitting can also be harmful for the heart.

Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski is an assistant professor of cardiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. A study she did along with cardiologists from the University of Texas found that six hours of sitting negates the benefit derived from one hour of exercise.

“Even if you exercise 30 minutes a day, it looks like it still matters what you are doing the other 23 1/2 hours of your day,” said Kulinski. “Humans evolved to walk the earth, not sit around. So we need to keep moving.”

Kulinski said that movement doesn't have to necessarily be rigorous.

“If you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently,” she said. “Get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while you are on a phone call, or even fidget.”

She also recommended taking walks during work breaks, using a pedometer, and going up stairs instead of taking an elevator.

Too much sedentary behavior like reading, driving or watching TV has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated levels of cholesterol.

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