Sitting or standing without moving the leg muscles puts additional stress on your heart, as blood and lymph pool in the legs. Tightening and relaxing the calf muscles can prevent the pooling of the blood. The inactivity of the calf muscles does not allow the blood to flow upward and may result in “sitting disease,” contributing to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Activating the calf muscles as well as other leg muscles are strategies to support cardiovascular health. Thus, the calf muscles are sometimes called “our second heart.” The important function of our “second heart” is to act as a pump to return venous blood and lymph fluids upward, which can occur only when we interrupt sitting with many brief exercises by frequently standing up during the day. Suggestions regarding how to implement short breaks are included. Note that, medically, the term second heart refers to the cisterna chyli, which brings the lymphatic fluids up from the abdomen; however, in this article, second heart is used in a common popular sense of the term as the description of the calf muscle to pump the venous blood toward the heart.

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