In England, one in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime, making it one of the country’s leading causes of death. The cerebrovascular disease occurs when blood flow to the brain is obstructed by a blood clot or the narrowing of blood vessels. The condition has a number of different known risk factors, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A new study, however, has demonstrated just how detrimental sedentary behaviour could be for overall health, raising the risk of stroke by seven times.
Sedentary behaviour includes a cluster of different conducts, notably when sitting or lying are dominant modes of posture, and expenditure is very low.
Many children are growing up overweight, with increasing research suggesting this is down to a combination of dietary factors and sedentary behaviour.
In fact, studies have incessantly highlighted the association between physical inactivity and premature mortality and morbidity.
Two sedentary behaviours, in particular, television viewing and computer use, rank highly as risk factors for various so-called “sitting diseases”, including stroke.
READ MORE: Stroke: The early warning signs of a stroke that could appear 10 years before an incident
For their study, researchers conducted a review of information pertaining to the lifestyle habits of 143,000 adults with no history of stroke, heart disease or cancer.
Study author Raed Joundi, from the University of Calgary in Canada, said: “Sedentary time is the duration of awake activities that are done sitting or lying down.
“Leisure sedentary time is specific to the sedentary activities done while not at work.
“It is important to understand whether high amounts of sedentary time can lead to stroke in young individuals, as a stroke can cause premature death or significantly impair function and quality of life.”
The participants’ hospital records were assessed over the course of 9.4 years, to identify incidents of stroke.
Researchers conducted a parallel review of sedentary activities, by measuring how much time the participants spent on computers or watching TV.
The cohort was thereafter divided into four categories of less than four hours of sedentary activity a day, four to six hours a day, six to eight hours a day and eight hours or more a day.
The average daily sedentary time across the cohort was 4.08 hours. Individuals aged 60 and younger had an average sedentary time of 3.9 hours a day, compared to 4.3 hours for those aged 80 and over, and 4.4 hours for adults aged 60 to 79.
During the follow-up period, a total of 2,965 strokes occurred, 90 percent of which were ischemic, which occurs when a vessel supplying blood is obstructed.
The results showed that adults 60 years and younger, who reported eight or more hours of leisure sedentary time has a 4.2 higher risk of stroke, compared to those reporting less than four hours of sedentary time.
The most sedentary group had a seven times higher risk of stroke compared to those reporting less than four hours of sedentary time a day.
Joundi noted: “Adults 60 years and younger should be aware that very high sedentary time with little time spent on physical activity can have adverse effects on health, including increase risk of stroke.
“Physical activity has a very important role in that it reduces the actual time spent sedentary, and it also seems to diminish the negative impact of excess sedentary time.
“Physician recommendations and public health policies should emphasise increased physical activity and lower sedentary time among young adults in combination with other healthy habits to lower the risks of cardiovascular events and stroke.
The findings echo previous reports from Public Health England which highlighted the link between screen time and lower levels of wellbeing in children. The report noted: “Higher levels of TV viewing are having a negative effect on children’s wellbeing, lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness.
“Children who spend more time on computers, watching TV and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression. “
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