IS SITTING THE NEW SMOKING? UNVEILING THE HIDDEN DANGERS OF A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE

IS SITTING THE NEW SMOKING: YOING WOMAN SITTING IN FRONT OF A LAPTOP

You’ve just finished a marathon session of your favorite TV show. Your trusty couch has molded itself perfectly to your contours, and your remote control is practically an extension of your hand. The outside world seems like a distant memory, and you’ve become a master of the art of sitting. But have you ever wondered if there’s more to this seemingly harmless act?

In the age of Zoom meetings, binge-watching, and endless scrolling on our devices, sitting has become the unofficial national pastime. It’s the activity we engage in most, yet rarely give a second thought. It’s time to address the elephant (or maybe the comfy recliner) in the room: Is sitting the new smoking?

While we might not be puffing on cigarettes, the consequences of our sedentary lifestyles are becoming increasingly alarming. Today we’ll dive into the hidden dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and explore why “Is Sitting The New Smoking?” is more than just a catchy phrase—it’s a wake-up call to the perils of our modern way of life.

 

Why Is Too Much Sitting So Bad

When we spend too much time parked in a chair, our body’s  heart, digestion, and muscles don’t quite do their job the way they’re supposed to. The result? A whole lot of backaches, joint pain, reduced strength, and flexibility, and an all-around feeling of stiffness.

But that’s not all: Studies have found that if you’re spending a whopping 13 hours or more sitting on your behind each day, you’re 44% more likely to have a stroke than those who clock in less than 11 hours of sitting. But hold on, before you start seeing your favorite armchair as your mortal enemy, let’s get one thing straight – it’s not the act of sitting itself that’s the villain here; it’s the whole sedentary lifestyle package. Especially the part where we park ourselves for hours on end without moving a muscle.

 

is sitting the new smoking: Infographic on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle

The Dangers Of A Sedentary Lifestyle

So what of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle?

  1. Chronic Disease Risks: Sitting for too long puts you at a higher risk for chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It messes with your blood flow, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, not in a good way.
  2. Weighty Issues: All that sitting can slow down your metabolism, making it easier to pack on the pounds. It loves depositing fat right around your midsection, giving you the classic spare tire look.
  3. Muscles and Joints in a Twist: Sitting for ages can be a real pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. It also messes with your muscles, makes you as flexible as a brick, and sets you up for all kinds of muscle and joint troubles.
  4. Mental Health Blues: Believe it or not, a sedentary lifestyle can mess with your head. It’s linked to higher chances of feeling anxious or depressed, which isn’t exactly fun.
  5. Shortened Lifespan: If you’re glued to your chair day in and day out, you might be shortening your lifespan. Studies have shown that sitting all day can cut your life shorter than you’d like.

 

How Much Sitting Is Too Much

Alright, let’s break this down. If you’re sitting for less than 4 hours a day, you’re in the low-risk zone. Not too shabby, keep it up. Now, if you’re logging in 4 to 8 hours daily, you’re in the medium-risk category. It’s like sitting on a fence—could go either way.

But here’s where it gets serious. If you’re clocking in 8 to 11 hours daily, you’re in the high-risk category. Danger zone alert! And if you find yourself glued to that chair for more than 11 hours a day, well, you’re at very high-risk of something bad happening. It’s like you’re playing with fire, my friend.

So, take a good look at your daily sitting routine and make those adjustments if you’re inching towards the danger zones. Your body will thank you for it.

 

What Can You Do About It

Here’s a tip for you: Try the 30-30-30 rule. Take 30 steps away from your chair for at least 30 seconds every 30 minutes. It’s like a mini escape from the clutches of your seat.

Now, let’s talk about a powerful one – aim to hit 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. We’re talking about workouts that make you break a little sweat. Why? Because hitting that magical 150-minute mark has been shown to dramatically slash your risk of kicking the bucket early and lower the odds of a face off with the big C.

But guess what? You can break it down into just 20 minutes a day. That’s a pretty small investment for some incredible health benefits, don’t you think? So, lace up those sneakers and get moving!

 

Is sitting the new smoking: Young woman working at a standing desk while stretching

What is Active Sitting

Have you ever heard of “active sitting?” No? Then, let’s talk about active sitting. It’s not your run-of-the-mill chair-surfing routine. While regular sitting lets your body go limp and passive, active sitting demands action. You use your back, abdomen, and leg muscles to stay upright. It’s like a low-key workout for your posture.

With active sitting, you’re all about engaging those core muscles and encouraging movement. You see, unlike your typical chair setup where you’re just passively lounging, active sitting is all about using your back, abdomen, and leg muscles to keep you upright and on your toes.

Now, if you’re up for trying it out, here are a few cool pieces of equipment you might want to check out: kneeling chairs, balance stools, Ariel stools, standing desks, stability balls (yes, those yoga balls), and wobble stools. They’re like the Avengers of the sitting world.

So, what’s in it for you with active sitting?

  1. Better Posture: Say goodbye to that hunchback look! Active sitting keeps your spine aligned and your muscles engaged, which can save you from back and neck pain.
  2. Improved Blood Flow: When you’re actively sitting, you’re encouraging better circulation, which can help you stay more alert and focused. Plus, it’s not just good for your body, it can give your productivity a little boost too.

But, hold on a second, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Active sitting has its drawbacks too. For starters, it might take some getting used to. Your core muscles will be put to work, and you might feel a bit sore at first. And let’s face it, it’s not as comfy as sinking into your favorite plush chair.

Also, active sitting isn’t a replacement for regular exercise. You can’t just park yourself on a wobble stool all day and call it a day. You still need to get your body moving with some good old-fashioned exercise.

So, if you’re up for a little change in your sitting game and don’t mind putting those muscles to work, give active sitting a whirl. It’s all about balance, after all. And who knows, you might just find it’s the upgrade your sitting routine needed all along.

 

Conclusion: Is Sitting The New Smoking

So what do you think?  Is sitting the new smoking? We’ve uncovered the hidden dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, learned how much sitting is too much, and explored the wonders of active sitting.

First off, a sedentary lifestyle isn’t just about sitting; it’s about what sitting does to us. Hours spent lounging around can lead to heart problems, obesity, aches, and stiffness, among other woes. The risks are real, and they affect all of us, especially those of us over 40. But here’s the good news – awareness is the first step to change.

As for how much sitting is too much, well, it’s pretty straightforward. If you’re parking your behind for 11 hours or more each day, you’re stepping into the danger zone. It’s like willingly inviting health troubles to your doorstep. But even if you’re in that high-risk category, don’t fret. You can still turn things around by making a few changes.

One easy trick is the 30-30-30 rule – every 30 minutes, take 30 steps away from your seat for at least 30 seconds. It’s a small break that can make a big difference. And don’t forget the magical 150-minute mark. Aim for that much moderate exercise every week, and you’ll be slashing your risks and dodging the threat of cancer and early mortality. It’s like a golden ticket to better health.

Now, let’s talk about active sitting. It’s not about giving up your seat entirely; it’s about redefining how you sit. Instead of being a passive blob in your chair, you’re actively engaging your muscles. This isn’t a “no pain, no gain” situation – it’s about keeping your core muscles busy while you sit. Active sitting is your secret weapon against the dangers of prolonged sitting.

Benefits? Well, let’s just say your posture, blood flow, and energy may get a bit of a boost! It’s a complement to an active lifestyle, not a replacement so don’t retire your gym shoes just yet. By following the 30-30-30 rule, aiming for 150 minutes of weekly exercise, and embracing the concept of active sitting, we can reclaim our health and vitality.

So, don’t let your chair win! Stand up, stretch, and move, because our bodies are meant to be in motion. By staying mindful of our sitting habits and making small changes, we can take a giant step toward a healthier, more active future. Your body will thank you for embracing a life less sedentary, more vibrant, and filled with movement.

As you can see the phrase ” Is sitting the new smoking ” is more than just a catchy expression. How much time do you spend sitting every day?  Leave a comment and let me know!

***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***

Author

  • Susan Taylor, RDN LD

    Meet Susan, registered dietitian / nutritionist and fellow autoimmune warrior who is dedicated to helping women with autoimmune disease get their groove back. With the right diet and lifestyle changes, Susan empowers her clients to take control of their health and feel their best. When she's not busy saving the world you can find Susan strolling along the beach, jet-setting to new destinations, and soaking up quality time with family & friends.

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