In today’s day and age, relaxation is equated to sitting still. For example, spending time on a smartphone, watching television, taking a nap, or reading a book are common methods of enjoying downtime. In addition, many people’s work is also sedentary, involving desks, computers, and cubicles.

Unfortunately, this type of sedentary lifestyle damages your health, especially if you suffer from or are at risk of developing fibroids. Just ask the Journal of Surgical Research.1

A study on sedentary lifestyles

A study published in that magazine examined the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the overall health of participants. A small study, it asked five people between the ages of 20 and 24 years old who were already in good health to remain on bed rest for five days and follow the same diet. The goal was to analyze how even brief inactivity affects health.

Each participant underwent testing to measure their blood vessel function, blood pressure, and the presence of inflammatory biomarkers. The goal was to see how brief periods of inactivity affected the blood vessel and heart health of the participants. Tests were run throughout the process.

These tests revealed that inactivity has an immediate and measurable impact on health. In particular, researchers found evidence in the participants of increased arterial stiffness, increased diastolic blood pressure (which meant that the arteries were experiencing increased pressure in between heart beats) and increased levels of the enzyme 15-HETE, which can contribute to the narrowing of arteries.

Researchers hypothesized that these negative effects were due to a deterioration in the cells that line the blood vessels, a condition call dysfunctional endothelium. This condition can lead to problems such as atherosclerosis. Defined as the buildup of plaque in the arteries, atherosclerosis is a culprit behind heart attacks and stroke.3

Because the chances of developing atherosclerosis and related conditions increase with age,4,5 and because inactivity had an impact even on young and healthy people, the study’s researchers assumed that the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle would be even greater on older people.

Findings confirmed with larger study

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology confirmed this hypothesis. A much larger study than the previous one, it analyzed results from more than 2,000 people who were involved in the Dallas Heart Study. Most of these individuals were women between 40 and 60 years old.

The study concluded that every hour of inactivity resulted in a 14 percent greater chance that the individual would suffer from the calcification, or hardening, of the arteries in their heart. This calcification is one sign of atherosclerosis.

While all of this information is relevant to anyone wishing to remain healthy for the long-term, it is particularly important for women who suffer from fibroids and symptoms of fibroids.

Sedentary-fibroid link

Why? Because uterine fibroids themselves already put a woman at greater risk of developing atherosclerosis.In addition, inactivity has been linked to a higher rate of developing large fibroids in the uterus.6

So, your inactivity could be making your fibroids worse, and your fibroids could be making your heart health worse. In light of these facts, it might be better to find more active ways to enjoy your downtime, and to be aware of the impact that a sedentary lifestyle may be having, not only on your fibroids and fibroid symptoms, but on your health overall.

Sources for information referenced in this post

  1. Nosova, E. V., Yen, P., Chong, K. C., Alley, H. F., Stock, E. O., Quinn, A., Hellman, M. S., Conte, M. S., Owens, C. D., Spite, M., & Grenon, S. M. (2014). Short-term physical inactivity impairs vascular function. Journal of Surgical Research, 190(2): 672-682. doi:10.1016/j.jss.2014.02.001
  2. Kulinski, J., Kozlitina, J., Berry, J., de Lemos, J., & Khera, A. (2015). Sedentary behavior is associated with coronary artery calcification in the Dallas Heart Study. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 65(10_S): doi. 10.1016/S0735-1097(15)61446-2
  3. American Heart Association. (2014).Retrieved August 23, 2015, from What is Cardiovascular Disease? 
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2014).Retrieved August 23, 2015, from Who Is at Risk for Atherosclerosis
  5. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2014). Retrieved August 23, 2015, from What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease
  6. He, Y., Zeng, Q., Dong, S., Qin, L., Li, G., & Wang, P. (2013). Associations between uterine fibroids and lifestyles including diet, physical activity, and stress: a case-control study in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 22(1): 109-117. doi:10.6133/apjcn.2013.22.1.07
  7. Aksoy, Y., Sivri, N., Karaoz, B., Sayin, C., & Yetkin, E. (2014). Carotid intima-media thickness: a new marker of patients with uterine leiomyoma. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 175: 54-57. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2014.01.005

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