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Oct 29, 2015

Sedentary Time is a Major Health Concern for Latinos

Study finds Latinos spend three-fourths of the day sedentary, which takes a toll on heart health.

The negative impact of inactivity is confirmed in one of the first studies linking sedentary behavior to increased cardiovascular risk in Latino adults.

Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, this study analyzed data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. Funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this study investigates risk factors and outcomes related to select chronic diseases in U.S. Latino adults.

A total of 12,083 adults from Chicago, Miami, San Diego and the Bronx participated in the study between 2008 and 2011. Adults were between 18–74 years of age and had diverse backgrounds, including Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican and South American.

At the start of the study, participants completed questionnaires and underwent exams to assess their health. Participants were also asked to wear accelerometers for one week, which measured physical activity levels around the clock. Accelerometers showed that, on average, Latino adults were sedentary for 11.9 hours of the 16-hour waking day.

After taking into account factors like age and physical activity, higher levels of sedentary time were associated with higher blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

As authors explain, this is the first study to objectively assess sedentary time in Latino adults, who already face increased cardiovascular risk compared to white adults. Past studies tended to use self-reported information when assessing sedentary time, which is less reliable than objective measures like accelerometers. And since these studies tend to include mostly non-Hispanic whites, findings may not be applicable to other races and ethnicities.

However, recent findings confirm that sedentary time is a major concern for Latino adults. Not only is sedentary time common among Latinos, it is linked to risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and cholesterol. Research suggests that sedentary time can have a negative impact on health, even in adults who get regular physical activity. As a result, authors emphasize the importance of reducing sedentary time to improve cardiovascular health.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is sedentary or leisure sitting time?
  • Sedentary time, often referred to by experts as leisure sitting time, refers to time spent physically inactive. The most common examples of sedentary time include sitting in front of a computer or desk at work or watching television. Prolonged periods of sedentary time on a regular basis have been shown to have a negative impact on overall health.
  • How does sedentary time affect heart health?
  • Many studies have shown that time spent inactive—sitting or lying down—can have a negative impact on our health, increasing risk for heart disease and diabetes. Experts suggest that limiting or reducing sedentary time can help improve heart health, even if it means simply standing up or walking instead of sitting down for an hour or two a day.

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