Vein center: Study says sitting is bad for your vascular health

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014   |   Revised: August 26, 2014

Vein center: Study says sitting is bad for your vascular health

With so many news stories focused on obesity, you may think eating the country’s national pastime, but actually there’s one activity that most Americans do for about half their waking hours: Sitting. We sit at our desks, in our cars during our commutes, at our kids’ sporting events, in front of the TV and in front of our computers for an average of nearly 10 hours each day – and many people sit for much longer than that.

While that life of leisure attitude may sound relaxing and pleasurable, it’s actually taking a toll on our health, with implications for everything from diabetes to negative effects on your vascular health and more.

Varicose veins are one of the more common results of the sedentary lifestyle. Why? Because when we sit, our circulation slows and fluids can pool more readily in our legs and feet. That means added pressure for our blood vessels, and that can cause the weakened vessel walls and damaged valves that eventually lead to varicose veins.

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine, M.D., calls sitting “the new smoking,” thanks to the wide ranging plethora of health issues it can cause. Consider this: If you sit for just three hours each day, you could add two years to your lifespan, simply by being a little more active.

In addition to its effect on the circulatory system, prolonged sitting also increases the levels of cholesterol in the blood, which can also contribute to heart disease. And researchers have also found that a sedentary lifestyle also contributes to an increased risk for colon cancer.

So is this just one more round of studies encouraging us all to undertake regular programs of exercise in order to be healthier? Nope. These studies are advising not sitting – that means that even simply standing is preferable and can yield benefits for your health. While some enthusiasts have embraced the “stand, don’t sit” mantra by exchanging traditional desks for podiums – and some enterprising companies have actually developed desk surfaces that attach to treadmills – simple changes like taking regular breaks from your desk to walk around the office or maybe eschewing TV for a slow ramble around the block can make a big difference.

Don’t want to give up TV? Dust some shelves, fold some laundry or break out the ironing board – all standing activities that still allow you to watch TV and get some needed chores completed in the process. The premise behind these studies’ results is that you can achieve remarkable benefits simply by being vertical for a little more of your day.

If you’re looking for ways to improve circulatory health and banish varicose veins or spider veins, the first step is to have a baseline evaluation at your vein center. Call our vein clinic today and schedule an appointment – just be sure to stand up while you’re telephoning.

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