Even sitting inside cars kills

Gretchen Reynolds, in NYT Well, references an article in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” by TY Warren et al. “Well” focuses on one finding — that men who spent more than one full day a week sitting either in a car or on a couch (watching TV) had a 64% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD). And, as Alan Durning has noted in reporting findings from another study, the correlation holds regardless of whether the men regularly did high-impact exercise (e.g., team sports, gym workouts). Avoiding CVD appears to be more about staying in motion constantly, rather than sporadic bursts of activity interrupting otherwise sedentary behavior — exactly the patterns of activity that active communities and suburban sprawl respectively foster.

What I thought was even more interesting, though, is that the article notes a higher correlation between sitting in cars and CVD than watching TV and CVD. Indeed, it appears that hours spent watching TV aren’t significantly correlated with risk of death from CVD — but that spending more than 10h a week in a car (=2h/weekday) leads to an 82% (!) higher risk of death from CVD than spending less than 4h a week (=48min/weekday) in a car.

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4 thoughts on “Even sitting inside cars kills

  1. I should read the article before speculating.

    But I’m sure you’re familiar with “restless leg syndrome” that people experience because of sitting on airplanes for long periods of time. The same is probably true for sitting in a car. Blood does not flow well to many parts of the body while driving (or being a passenger).

  2. I guess another way of putting this might be “sitting on your couch will give you fewer heart attacks than sitting in your car, but in any case you really should be up & about.”

    J: That would imply that road emissions have a pretty big effect on CVD. Not that I’d be complaining if it were true, but I think most of the air-pollution-and-health studies I’ve found have focused on cancer and respiratory disease, with CVD as a secondary effect.

    S: Deep Vein Thrombosis is related to stroke and not heart attacks (CVD).

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