Did You Know Sitting is the New Smoking?

Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking?  Actually, it’s worse.

Age doesn’t matter.  From early childhood to old age, the amount of sitting has increased as we have become a sedentary society.  Not only do we sit at work all day, but we also sit in our cars as we travel from place to place, sit down for meals, and then sit down on our couch to watch television in the evenings and on weekends.

A blog article by Anytime Fitness called Scared Sit-less reported that “a 2008 Vanderbilt University Study of 6,300 people published in the American Journal of Epidemiology estimated that an average American spends 58% of waking time (7.7 hours a day) in sedentary behaviors such as sitting. Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk, has found that ‘Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.'”

They go on to say that “There’s evidence that sitting increases the risk of developing various types of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. It also increases your risk of obesity, can decrease your mobility, and simultaneously interferes with the enzyme that breaks down fat (lipoprotein lipase), which can lead to fat being stored instead of utilized…and let’s not forget, sedentary behavior is associated with a higher risk of developing depression.”

I used to think that if I were sitting all day at work, I could just offset that by going out to exercise in the evening.  But I discovered that doesn’t do it.  The sitting itself causes physical problems.  If you’re sitting, you have to get up at least every hour to move around or, even better, stand up the whole time.

That’s why some progressive offices have installed treadmill desks so that workers can walk instead of sit.  But according to experts, that’s not the remedy.  Ergonomics Plus explains that it is a myth:

“The logic makes sense on the surface, but what many people fail to consider is the unintended impact walking all day could have on their musculoskeletal system. In addition to that, several studies have shown decreases in performance/productivity while working on a treadmill desk.

The bottom line: Most experts recommend leaving the treadmill at the gym. If you insist on using one, do so for limited periods of time.

Consider a sit-stand workstation option to utilize postural rotation. Many research studies show that a combination of sitting and standing positions can reduce the effects of sitting disease, improve metabolism and burn more calories throughout the workday.”

How to Combat Sitting Disease

  1. Be Aware:  Anytime Fitness advises:  “Become aware of how long you’ve been seated by setting a timer that reminds you to move. The Apple Watch has a Time to Stand Notification that reminds you to move if you haven’t over the last hour. But if you don’t have a watch, simply set a timer and when it goes off, move around. General step counters are also nice, to encourage movement and daily accountability—just make sure to spread out those steps throughout your day.”
  2. Move Regularly:  Take a five or ten-minute activity break every hour that you sit.  “The answer isn’t just standing instead of sitting (so no, you can’t just ditch your office chair for a standing desk and call it good)” says Anytime.  “You actually need to move. If you have a more traditional office job, here are a few ideas for the next time you get nudged to stand while at work. If your job already has you upright and you don’t have a traditional office set-up, make sure you walk (even march in place or take small steps side-to-side), squat, bend forward at the waist or side to side, and twist whenever you can. The secret is to change positions as often as you can.”
  3. Offset Your Sitting Time:  According to Anytime, “even if you can accomplish #1 and #2, working a desk job, driving around town, or even sitting on a plane for too long can wreak havoc on your body. Adding functional training to your weekly exercise routine is the best way to ensure muscles that are shortened, tight, and weak from sitting having the opportunity to get back in working order! There are also some stretches and exercises you can do while at work.”

In “Tip:  2 Ways to Fight Sitting Disease,” on the TNation website, it was noted that “Australian researchers found a 39% improvement in glucose levels and a 26% decrease in insulin when 18 short walks on a treadmill (1 minute, 40 seconds) were spaced evenly throughout the day. The interesting part of the experiment was that those who took frequent breaks did significantly better than those taking part in 30 minutes of exercise per day.”  This shows that a five-minute break after each hour of sitting can make a difference, just like how ten minutes of exercise three times a day is equal to 30 minutes of exercise.

Moving is moving.  It adds up.  And it’s good for you.

Do you sit too much?  How do you incorporate movement into your day?  What works for you?  Let us know in the comments below.  Also, please sign up for emails below to get future blog articles as they come out every Thursday and Saturday.  Follow YourTrueSelfBlog on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

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