Freeman Medical Musings Blog


Sitting is the new Smoking

Posted by Kris Drake, RN, CHPD, on August 21, 2015

If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all.” – Joey Adams, American Comedian

You may have heard in the news that sitting is the new smoking, as far as an increase in health risks goes. Many of us do a lot of sitting throughout the day – commuting to and from work, sitting at a desk all day and/or sitting on the couch at home. Prolonged sitting can take years off your life. Dr. James Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, studied the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and summed up his findings in two sentences: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. “ 

Sitting shortens lives by increasing the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and heart disease. In addition, exercising later in the day unfortunately doesn’t necessarily undo the negative effects of prolonged sitting. 

You may be wondering what you can do to take some of those years of your life back. Try these tips:

  • When possible, opt to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  • Walk to your coworker’s desk instead of sending an email or making a phone call
  • Plan a walking meeting
  • Stretch for a few minutes every few hours
  • Wear a pedometer and set a goal of walking 10,000 steps each day
  • Take a 10-minute walk break instead of checking your cell phone or personal email

Try one of the above suggestions for three weeks, or until it becomes a lifestyle change. Then, pick another habit and try it for three weeks. Invite your coworkers to do this as well. As you know, being accountable to others for your behavior makes it more likely that the habit will stick. 

Think happy; think healthy!