Sitting is the New Smoking
Are you sitting down while reading this? Chances are you’re reading this on your phone, eyes screen bound and neck craned in an awkward angle. Chances are you’re at your desk at work, where you have already spent hours at your computer, surrounded by colleagues and the fervent clicks of fingers racing across keyboards day in and day out.
Chances are you will leave work and get into your car where you will sit for another prolonged period of time as you crawl bumper to bumper towards home, joining the endless droves stuck in rush-hour traffic. Chances are, once you get home you won’t exercise or even go for a walk. Instead, you will plop down in front of your television, transfixed and frozen and eventually go to bed.
You just spent up to 12 hours of your day in a suspended sedentary stuper.
Take a seat, take a life
Considered to be more dangerous than smoking, the “Sitting Disease”, aptly coined by the scientific community, is becoming a global pandemic as our new culture of sitting becomes more omnipresent.
This new disease refers to the emerging metabolic syndrome and negative side effects of our increasing sedentary lifestyle that has left many of us chair-bound and glued to our computer or phone screens, making our waste-lines bigger, backs sorer and causing a spectrum of diseases that many are regrettably unaware of.
Ongoing research regarding the “Sitting Disease” has revealed some sobering information, and the risks associated with prolonged hours of sitting and not moving, something our bodies are biologically designed for, is killing us. Major diseases such as increased risks of cancer, muscular stiffness and damage, depression, back pain, fatigue, digestive issues, slow blood circulation, respiratory concerns, obesity and cardiovascular disease are just some of the consequences that come with our inactive lifestyle.
The active couch potato
While many may think that an hour or two on the treadmill is sufficient enough to counteract the side-effects of the “Sitting Disease”, scientific studies have revealed that even an hour or two of exercise cannot completely counteract the negative side-effects caused by hours of sitting.
Think about it, if we spend twelve hours in a sedentary position, how can an hour of working out really help alleviate the symptoms of sitting? We need more than just an hour or two of intensive physical activity.
The most effective way is to make little changes that will have a tremendous impact on your health and well-being, and you can do this by moving throughout the day.
Bust a move
There is technically nothing wrong with sitting, however it is the volume of time we spend in chronic sedentary stillness, desk-bound and frozen in one position for up to 60 minutes or more.
Here are some tips and tricks to include more movement in your day that could save your life.
- Park your car farther away and take a longer walk to your office.
- Invite your friends to take a walk to catch up instead of just sitting at a cafe or on the couch.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- A little stroll during a phone call is quick way to get moving.
- Take a five minute movement break every hour during work. It's just 5 minutes, the email can wait.
- Download an app that will remind you to get up and stretch.
- Invest in a Fitbit or other movement monitor.
- Research some stretches you can do at work. Pinterest is my go-to.
Take a stand
Chances are you are still sitting whilst reading this post. So this is our wake-up call to you. Take walks, stretch and become aware of the poisons of stillness. Get your family and friends moving, it is good medicine.
“Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights!” I would like to think that Bob Marley was also talking about a sedentary revolution. It is your right as a human being to stay active and respect the body that was given to you.
Written by: Laila Al-Yafi