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Healthy Living: Is Sitting As Bad As Smoking?

September 4, 2014


By now, you’ve probably seen multiple headlines proclaiming, “sitting is the new smoking.” These articles stemmed from several different research studies that found prolonged periods of sitting increased the risk of an early death, even for adults who exercised regularly.

If that doesn’t give you the urge to step away from your laptop or turn off the TV and take a walk around your block, we’re not sure what will.

It’s tempting to dismiss such a strong statement as another media scare tactic, but there are good reasons to be concerned about sitting too much.

Researchers have linked sitting too much to obesity, increased blood pressure and higher blood sugar levels. Even more concerning, some studies have shown that prolonged sitting can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Being fit unfortunately doesn’t seem to offset the risks. As this popular Runner’s World article asserts, sitting can be harmful to your health even if you’re a runner.

It’s frustrating to learn that even your morning gym routine can’t combat the negative effects of a 45-minute commute and eight hours at your desk each day, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause.

Here are five easy ways to sit less and move more for healthy living. 

Hold Meetings On the Go

Need to talk to a colleague? Don’t schedule another brainstorming session in the conference room. Try a walk-around instead. Do a few laps around your office building to get some fresh air and movement while you have a discussion.

Schedule Breaks

Even if you have a big project that keeps you at your desk for an extended period of time, give yourself a few minutes between meetings or between tasks to stand up, stretch, or just walk across the room to talk to a coworker.

Try a Standing or Treadmill Desk

While it might not be a feasible option for everyone, the standing desk or treadmill desk could be worth looking into. You can maintain your productivity and keep moving at the same time.

Activate Your TV Time

If you find yourself losing hours of your day sitting in front of the television, replace your favorite comfy chair with a stationary bike or treadmill. Or, try doing crunches, push-ups or planks during commercial breaks. That way, you can still watch your shows while doing something good for your body.

Use Phone Calls as Reasons to Move

With phone cords and lines quickly becoming a relic of the past, now is a great time to use phone calls as a reason to get up and move around. Use each call you receive as a reason to stand up or take a few laps around your office.

While smoking might still be the winner on the list of negative health habits, the dangers of sitting too much are worth taking seriously. Adding in just a few active breaks into your work day can make a big difference for your long-term health.

Ready to make a commitment to fitness? Download our free guide: “6 Steps to Getting Fit and Active.”

Physical Activity Guidelines