Is Sitting As Dangerous As Smoking?

The era of technology has introduced many benefits and advances, but it’s also dramatically diminished our need to move. Most adults work jobs that require sitting for long periods of time. We sit while we drive, relax after work, and watch TV. Unfortunately, all of this sitting can cause health problems.

Sitting disease is a real health condition impacting millions of unsuspecting Americans each year. It can be described as a modern day malady brought on by the rise of sedentary job descriptions and lifestyles. Even dedicated athletes can fall victim to sitting disease. Could it be a danger to your own health and wellness?

What Is Sitting Disease?

Sitting disease is just what it sounds like: health consequences caused by too many hours of sitting. Too much sitting makes the body more susceptible to blood clots, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and a variety of other health problems triggered by a lack of physical activity.

You may think that your daily visit to the gym can counteract the negative consequences of your sedentary job, but unfortunately you’d be wrong. Evidence indicates that isolated daily exercise, like a 45-minute kickboxing class, can’t counteract the other 8 or 9 hours of sitting that your body endures each day. The Mayo Clinic has gone so far as to say that, “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”

Why Do We Sit So Much?

Sitting is becoming harder and harder to avoid. Vanderbilt University released a study of 6,300 people in 2008 which estimated that Americans spend a full 55 percent of their waking hours sitting. That’s nearly 8 hours! Most people sit while they commute to and from work, sit at a desk while working, and then sit on the couch at home. These habits are unhealthy but hard to break.

How to Fight Sitting Disease

Adding movement into your routine is the obvious solution to sitting disease, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds! If you work a sedentary job or feel out of shape, moving more probably feels impossible – but it doesn’t have to be. Try this simple tips to get your blood flowing:

  • Walk whenever you see an opportunity, such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • Walk around the room for a stretch break every 20 or 30 minutes
  • Take phone calls standing up, or even use a standing desk if possible
  • Plan activities during your non-working hours that provide extra physical activity.

Any amount of movement that you can work into your day will help your body fight the effects of sitting disease and keep you healthy.

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