Sitting for your job and your cardiovascular health

The World Health Organization guidelines recommend reducing sedentary behaviours for improved health outcomes. However, little is known about the connection with prolonged occupational sitting and cardiovascular health.

New 2024 research (Occupational sitting time, leisure physical activity, and all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality) looked beyond just being inactive and investigated those which sat during the day for their occupation.

Participants in the ‘mostly sitting’ group tended to be younger and more educated, had fewer lifestyle risks like smoking and drinking, and were less likely to be overweight or obese, or have hypertension. However, the lower risk factors among the ‘mostly sitting’ group did not influence the higher probability of cardiovascular disease related death. There was a 34% higher risk of mortality due to CVD among the ‘mostly sitting at work’ group compared to the ‘alternating’ and ‘mostly non-sitting’ group.

The total number of participants in the study was 481,688:

-    Mostly sitting – 290,075

-    Alternating sitting and non-sitting – 140,210

-    Mostly non-sitting – 51,403

The total number of CVD-related deaths was 5371. Here is a breakdown of some of the results.

The study included a few potential reasons or explanations which may explain the harmful effects for prolonged sitting:

  • Deficient exercise of the large lower limb muscles and the truck of the body.
  • Reduced blood flow to the lower extremities.
  • The existence of a biomarker for low-grade inflammation.


Recent research - Implications of food ultra-processing on cardiovascular risk

The study included approximately 127,000 participants aged between 40-69 years, and was carried out from 2009 to 2012 with an average follow-up period of 9 years. The foods were categorised into plant and animal sourced non-ultra-processed (non-UPF) and ultra-processed (UPF) foods.

Results found that when there was a 10% increase in plant-sourced non-UPF there was a:

  • 7% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • 8% reduced risk of incident coronary heart disease.
  • 13% reduced risk of CVD mortality.

Plant-sourced UPF consumption:

  • 5% increased risk of CVD.
  • 12% elevated mortality risk.

Reference – Rauber, F. et al. (2024). Implications of food ultra-processing on cardiovascular risk considering plant origin foods: an analysis of the UK Biobank cohort. The Lancet Regional Health. Europe.