Sitting is the new smoking

Chris Nicholson

/ 1 min read

You’ve probably heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”. Study after study has shown the more you sit, the poorer your health, no matter how fit you are.

We live in a society where we go from the car to our chair at work, to the dinner table, to parked on the couch in front of the television at home. All that time we spend sitting is linked to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death.

Your body was designed to move and sitting for an extended period of time causes your body to shut down at the metabolic level. A standing body uses energy differently than a sitting one: it burns calories at a different rate, stores them in different ways, and even our brains function differently.

The good news is standing, and movement in general, can reverse the effects of sitting. If you were to stand at work, you would burn approximately an extra 50 calories an hour. If you stood for three hours a day for five days a week over the course of a year, that’s about 30,000 extra calories, or around 8 pounds of fat.

Obviously, it’s not practical for everyone to stand up while they work. So what can we do? Here are some ideas:

• Take hourly breaks. Every hour, get up and move. Walk through the workplace to the furthest bathroom, printer, water cooler, colleague’s desk.

• Stretch or move in place. Don’t have anywhere to go? Touch your toes, walk or march in place for a few minutes, or do some stretching.

• Walk at lunch. Use half to eat, half to walk. Round up a few colleagues and make it a weekly date.

• Ditch the car. When possible, walk, bike, run to work or when doing errands. Park far away from your destination and walk part of the way. Or get off the bus several stops early.

• Stand when you talk. If you can, try standing up to talk on the phone. When you’re at home, or if you’re on a cell phone, walk around while chatting