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Why Sitting is the New Smoking and How to Minimize the Risks

Listen to “Why Sitting is the New Smoking and How to Minimize the Risks”.

You may have heard the saying, “sitting is the new smoking,” which is credited to Dr. Levine. But, he’s not the only one who believes that we’re sitting ourselves to death.

Humans spend a lot of time sitting around these days, watching TV, using the computer, playing video games, sitting in vehicles etc. All of these things involve prolonged periods of low-level metabolic energy expenditure. 

Sedentary behaviour is not merely the absence of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, but rather a unique set of behaviours, with unique environmental determinants and a range of potentially unique health consequences. These could include heart disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, accelerated ageing, muscular tightness and postural issues, just to name a few.

The human body is simply not built to sit for prolonged periods. A hundred years ago, when we were all out toiling in the fields and factories, obesity was practically nonexistent. Now it’s an epidemic!

You may be thinking, “But I workout several times per week.” The research shows that though exercise is good for you, it doesn’t negate the damage done by extended periods of sitting.

You can’t offset 10 hours of sitting still with one hour of exercise. Sitting is an independent risk factor, and the cure for too much sitting isn’t more exercise. Exercise is good, of course, but the average person could never do enough to counteract the effects of hours and hours spent sitting in a chair. 

Here are some simple daily habits to help you counteract the consequences of sitting.

  • Take ten minutes to stretch or move for every fifty minutes of sitting. 
  • Get off your chair, give your eyes a break from the computer, drink a glass of water, and do some light walking or stretching. 
  • Stand by a window and gaze outside for a few minutes to give the muscles in your eyes a break.
  • Park further from the entrance of your destination.
  • Have walking meetings.
  • If you take public transportation, get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way. You can also stand on trains and buses instead of sitting down.
  • Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.

Keep moving and you will be rewarded with a longer, healthier life. Give yourself a chance!

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