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How to Reverse Effects of Couch Potato Lifestyle

A new study shows that you can reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, but it’ll take time.

In over 60 years, our society has progressively become more sedentary. The sedentary lifestyle is categorized by much sitting and little physical exercise. We go from sitting at work to sitting at home, which is not good. The dangers of sitting too long throughout the day cannot be ignored. Because we are so used to sitting, it seems daunting to try to change our lifestyle and get healthy. Don’t worry. There is hope.

A new study published in the journal Circulation has found how to reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. However, it is is going to take some time. Researchers have found that you can reverse the effects with two years worth of consistent exercise.

What did the study cover?

The study focused on 53 healthy-aged participants, with ranging ages of 45-64. All participants had led a sedentary lifestyle prior to the start of the study. The research team split the group in half. One group took on an intensive exercise regimen. The intensive exercise regiment consisted of a weekly hour-long exercise session (such as biking, brisk walking, tennis or dancing), a weekly high-intensity interval training workout, moderate intensity exercise two or three times a week and at least one strength training session weekly.

The other group took on a program that focused on flexibility and balance. Yoga and balancing exercises were done 3-4 times a week. Both groups participated in their regimens for a duration of two years.

What were the findings?

Dr. Benjamin Levine, professor of exercise science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and his colleagues measured the elasticity and flexibility of the heart muscles after the participants followed their designated exercise routines.

The participants who undertook the intensive exercise routine showed less stiffened heart muscles. Participants focusing on flexibility did not have the same results. Participants in the intensive program also showed differences in oxygen intake. They were taking in more oxygen through their blood. Participants in the flexibility program did not show these results either.

What does this mean?

According to Levine, the findings reveal that there is hope for those who have led a sedentary lifestyle. If people pursue the right kind of exercise regimen and the right amount of exercise, you can help reverse some of the health effects that a sedentary lifestyle can cultivate. Those who participated in the study did not start out immediately tackling the more intensive exercises. They started off slowly and built their way up.

If you can’t commit to the level of exercise that the participants did, remember that some exercise is better than none at all. With studies showing that just 7 minutes of moderate walking or other exercises every day can make a difference in overall physical mobility, the sky is the limit in turns of what we can do to slowly reduce the effects of a couch potato lifestyle.


Reversing the Cardiac Effects of Sedentary Aging in Middle Age—A Randomized Controlled Trial: Implications For Heart Failure Prevention

Erin J. HowdenSatyam SarmaJustin S. LawleyMildred OpondoWilliam CornwellDouglas StollerMarcus A. UreyBeverley Adams-Huet and Benjamin D. Levine

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