Does Sitting Trump Smoking?

There is a new term making its way around the Internet – “Sitting is the new smoking.” If it sounds shocking, it’s meant to, as researchers are taking a long, hard look at how we spend our time and what impact that is having on our health. Just as smoking a little is still smoking, sitting all week is still sitting, even though you also find time to work out. What they have found you may not want to sit down for, so go ahead and stand up.

We sit way too much

According to a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity we spend about 64 hours a week sitting. That’s more than nine hours a day. Nine. Even if we follow the recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise a week, or a slim two-and-a-half hours, we’re not doing enough to combat the bad that comes with sitting, researchers say.

One study found that by doubling the amount of time we are sitting watching television, for example, we increase our risk of a cardiovascular event by 125 percent. Another study looked more closely at this connection and found study participants who sat the most were at an increased risk for diabetes (112 percent), cardiovascular events (147 percent), deaths from cardiovascular events (90 percent) and deaths from all causes (49 percent) compared to those who sat the least.

Before you say the couch is out to get us, think about other ways you spend time sitting - commuting to work, all day at your desk or sitting at the ball game. Our lifestyles today are geared for sitting. The problem with becoming an immobile society is that our bodies were not designed to sit all day, even if we exercise on a regular basis. Seated, our circulation slows, we burn less fat and we use less blood sugar – directly impacting our risk of diabetes and heart disease.  Additionally, LPP1, a key gene in preventing blood from clotting and inflammation is significantly suppressed when we sit for a few hours at a time.

Less Sitting, More Doing

Before you throw the remote or slam down the laptop screen, there are ways to sit less throughout the day. Whether that is intentionally setting reminders to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour or changing your sitting environment, reducing the amount of time you sit can help improve your heart health and take advantage of the benefits you reap from exercising throughout the week.

*Take regular standing and walking breaks every hour.

*Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

*Walk over and talk in-person to a co-worker instead of sending an email.

*Catch up on your favorite shows while working out at the gym, instead of sitting at home.
*Break up tasks at home into smaller tasks to walk more when unloading the groceries, putting laundry away or picking up around the house.

*Research products available to turn your workspace into a standing workspace.

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