By Kevin Onuma
InformAfrica – This is to inform fellow Africans, especially in diaspora, that inactivity (sedentary lifestyle) can lead to a type of heart disease that affects the cardiovascular system. Inactivity such as sitting for long hours watching TV, long hours on a computer, among other factors, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
What Is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease, according to MayoClinic, generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or beating rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. The term “heart disease” is often used interchangeably with “cardiovascular disease.”
Before I go any further, I’d like to disclaim that I am no health adviser or health practitioner. However, if you’re like me that understand “prevention is better than cure“, then you know the importance of seeking free health-related information online to empower yourself – we are in the age of awareness. It’s good to know the effect of things you do in life, whether good or bad – so you know how to balance yourself.
Being a blogger and also a webmaster, “screen-based sitting activity” for hours is part of ones daily lifestyle. But global Africans, especially Africans in diaspora America-UK, ought to be conscious of how much time they spend sitting with a PC-Laptop, watching TV, and other sedentary lifestyle behaviors, since too much of inactivity (too much of anything) is definitely detrimental to the health. The need to be fit (regular exercising/working out), is a need to be healthy.
Several research on fitness & health are focusing not on how much exercise people get, but how much of their time is spent being inactive (sedentary lifestyle), and the harm that it does to ones health.
Wikipedia defines a sedentary lifestyle as a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity. A person who lives a sedentary lifestyle may colloquially be known as a couch potato. It is commonly found in both the developed and developing world. Sedentary activities include sitting, reading, watching television, playing video games, and computer use for much of the day with little or no vigorous physical exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to many preventable causes of death. Screen time is the amount of time a person spends watching a screen such as a television, computer monitor, or mobile device. Excessive screen time is linked to negative health consequences.
A January 2011 study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, indicate that the amount of leisure time spent sitting in front of a screen can have such an overwhelming, seemingly irreparable impact on one’s health.
The aim of the population-based study was to examine the independent relationships of television viewing or other screen-based entertainment (“screen time”) with all-cause mortality and clinically confirmed cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. A secondary objective was to examine the extent to which metabolic (body mass index, high-density lipoprotein and total cholesterol) and inflammatory (C-reactive protein) markers mediate the relationship between screen time and CVD events.
The population-based study followed 4,512 middle-aged Scottish men for a little more than four years on average. It found that those who said they spent two or more leisure hours a day sitting in front of a screen were at double the risk of a heart attack or other cardiac event compared with those who watched less. Those who spent four or more hours of recreational time in front of a screen (such as watching TV or on the computer/Laptop) were 50 percent more likely to die of any cause. It didn’t matter whether the men were physically active for several hours a week — exercise didn’t mitigate the risk associated with the high amount of sedentary screen time.
“Our results suggest that there is an independent, deleterious relationship of screen-based recreational sitting time with CVD events and all-cause mortality. Compared with those spending <2 h/day on screen-based entertainment, there was a 48% increased risk of all-cause mortality in those spending ≥4 h/day and an approximately 125% increase in risk of CVD events in those spending ≥2 h/day (Table 3). These associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, BMI, social class, as well as physical activity.“
Another 2010 study published on the National Institute of Health’s PubMed examined the relationship between two sedentary behaviors (riding in a car and watching TV) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in men in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. The documented study is titled “Sedentary behaviors increase risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in men“.
Participants for the study were 7,744 men (20-89 yr) initially free of cardiovascular disease who returned a mail-back survey during 1982. Time spent watching TV and riding in a car were reported.
The study found that: In men, riding in a car and combined time spent in these two sedentary behaviors were significant cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality predictors. In addition, high levels of physical activity were related to notably lower rates of CVD death even in the presence of high levels of sedentary behavior. Health promotion efforts targeting physically inactive men should emphasize both reducing sedentary activity and increasing regular physical activity for optimal cardiovascular health.
So men who spend more than 23 hours a week watching TV and sitting in their cars were more likely to die of heart disease than those who sat for 11 hours a week or less, even if they exercised – according to the study.
Further more, a 2009 study published on NYTimes found that young children who watch one and a half to five and a half hours of TV a day have higher blood pressure readings than those who watch less than half an hour, even if they are thin and physically active.
There are factors to consider in determining the cardiovascular disease mortality for the Black man. Considering the African gene (a unit of heredity transferred from a parent to offspring and is held to determine some characteristic of the offspring) is very different from and stronger than that of other race in terms of ability to withstand wear and tear and infections. This is my own opinion.
Nevertheless, inactivity (lack of activity), poor fitness, bad diet, lack of exercise, among other factors; all contribute to ones inability to adequately fight infections, could even lead to a weak immune defense. I conclude this enlightening informative article as a reminder to Africans that inactivity increases risk of heart disease otherwise known as cardiovascular disease (CVD).
- Heart Disease ~ Cardiovascular –MayoClinic
- Sedentary Lifestyle – Wikipedia
- Screen-Based Entertainment Time, All-Cause Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events – The Journal of the American College of Cardiology
- Sedentary behaviors increase risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in men –PubMed
- Television Viewing Linked to Blood Pressure Increases in Children –NYTimes