Sitting Is The New Smoking

I have blogged about how sitting is the new smoking. The cliché is pretty lame, but nonetheless highlights that sitting for eight hours a day is a major risk factor for health problems.

The results of a new study are shocking. In the group randomized to a standing protocol, there were major changes noted including:

  • Lower blood sugar
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Improved total cholesterol to HDL ratio
  • Higher HDL
  • Lower waist circumference

The results of the new study are not surprising. It’s just common sense that we sit way too much. Our Paleo ancestors never sat in chairs. The fact that our children sit most of day at a desk is ruining another generation of spines, the total health ramifications are unknown. Animals in the wild do not sit in chairs, why should we. In fact, sitting while having a bowel movement is likely a major cause for constipation and hemorrhoids.

You have to get up and move!
Another study found those who sit the longest have a 24% higher risk of dying, 13% higher risk of cancer, and almost 2x the risk of diabetes. Exercise helps, but does not eliminate the excess risk. In other words, hitting the gym for 45 minutes does not get rid of the risk of bad outcomes from sitting.

Other studies have found that those who sit are more likely to have:

  • A stroke or blood clot in the lungs
  • High blood pressure
  • Nerve damage in the legs
  • Legs swelling/edema
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain

Here is an action plan:
Invest in a Balance Exercise Ball Chair, it naturally forces your spine to stand up straighter and people prefer them over regular desk chairs. Many people report sitting on an exercise ball while at home or work promotes flexibility, coordination, motor skills, core strengthening, and balance. And many who have tried a ball chair simply prefer them to traditional chairs.

  • Stand while you are on the phone.
  • Get a standing desk.
  • Stand while watching TV.
  • Stand while eating, when socially appropriate.
  • Stand while attending a lecture. Head to the back of the room or to the side. This will not distract the speaker. Standing in the middle of your row might, and certainly will bother the person behind you.
  • Walk around the office to speak with colleagues, don’t just pick up the phone.
  • Stop frequently while on long road trip. Get out and walk around. This has benefits on many levels and may decrease the risk of dangerous blood clots.



European Heart Journal. July 30, 2015.

Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132.

PLoS One. 2015; 10(6)

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