Active Seniors

How sitting affects our arteries

We often get told about the benefits of diet and exercise on the health of our arteries. Regular physical activity helps to control our good to bad cholesterol ratio, reduces our body fat and helps to control our blood sugar levels. While these are all very important to the health of our arteries, one factor that is often not discussed is the effect of prolonged postures such as sitting.

Our arteries are elastic in nature and like most of our body parts are very adaptive. They change diameter and shape in response to our body position, and the more we more the greater their ability to adapt and change is. When we adopt a posture for a long period of time, the arteries are held in a constant position. Over time this reduces their ability to adapt and change accordingly.

For example when we sit for prolonged periods of time, there are certain areas of the body such as the hip area, in which the vessels are compressed. Imagine our blood vessels are a bit like a hose. When the hose is straight there is little to no resistance to the flow of water through the hose. When we bend the hose, the water becomes more turbulent as it changes direction at the bend.

Our blood contains both liquid, and cells. If blood flow becomes very turbulent, more of the cells impact and potentially create damage to the vessel walls. This can accelerate the development of plaque in the arteries, as cholesterol is laid down to patch up any damage to these delicate vessels.

So while movement through exercise is important for the health of the arteries, don’t forget the importance of regular movement to ensure that your vessels stay healthy and adapt to change!

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