Sitting for long periods increases heart failure risk in men, even for those who exercise regularly, according to new research.

The study is the first to examine the link between heart failure risk and sedentary time, said Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., lead researcher and a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, Calif.

Researchers found that high levels of physical activity and low levels of sedentary time were both important for preventing heart failure.

“Be more active and sit less. That’s the message here,” Young said.

For about eight years on average, researchers followed 84,170 men ages 45 to 69 who did not have heart failure.

They found that outside the work environment, men who spent five hours or more sitting were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, despite how much they exercised.

On the other hand, men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who had high levels, even after adjusting for differences in sedentary time, researchers said.

Men also more than doubled their risk of heart failure if they sat five hours a day and got little exercise, versus men who were very active and sat for two hours or less a day, according to the study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

The findings support the AHA’s recommendation that people get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity to reduce their risk for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, Young said.

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