Why Sitting is the new Smoking and How to Quit

sitting is the new smokingThere has been a lot of discussion in the world of health lately about the negative impact of prolonged sitting. In fact, there is so much buzz about it, sitting has become the new smoking.

But is this a bit of an exaggeration? While there is no such thing as “second hand sitting” you might be surprised at some of the close connections sitting and smoking have when it comes to your health.

Heart Disease

It’s well known that smoking can increase your risk for developing heart disease but what about sitting?

A recent study [1] , which was presented at the America College of Cardiology, found that there is a correlation between prolonged sitting and an increase in Coronary Artery Calcification (CAC). CAC is an early indicator of subclinical heart disease and can increase your risk for a heart attack. The study followed 2031 participants, 62% women with a mean age of 50 (give or take 10 years). As a group, they spent an average of 5 hours sedentary during their waking hours. The study concluded that for every hour of sedentary time there was a 14% increase in CAC.

“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” ~ Martha Grogan, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

Diabetes

There is mounting evidence suggesting that prolonged sitting, combined with reduced physical activity, plays a major role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Sitting may also make the situation worse after a diagnosis. A 2014 study [2] conducted at the University of Florida found that participants who sat 12 – 15 hours per day were at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than those who were less sedentary.

Other Health Concerns

As if heart disease and diabetes weren’t enough, prolonged sitting and a sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to an increased risk for cancer and death.

Evidence showed that prolonged sitting is independently associated with negative health outcomes and mortality. But the health effects of prolonged sitting were most pronounced in people who never exercise or do so only occasionally.

Curated from: http://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20150127sitting.html

What Can You Do?

The two best things you can do are:

  1. Sit less
  2. Exercise

Simple lifestyle changes can have an impact on your health and when it comes to the amount of time you spend sitting, small changes can be quite profound.

Here are some suggestions for reducing the amount of time you spend sitting during the day:

  • Keep a “sitting log” to track the amount of time you spend sitting every day. The Sitting Time Calculator and the Calorie Burn Calculator are FREE on-line tools you can use to assess the amount of time you’re currently sitting.
  • When you’re on the phone stand-up;
  • Stand up while you’re watching TV (better yet exercise by marching in place or doing Yoga, etc…)
  • Getting up to stand or walk for even a minute or two every hour can make a difference. The Stand Up App for the iPhone helps remind you to stand up and take a break from sitting once an hour. For those of you with Android devices  The Sitting Timer  is a smart, automatic timer which helps encourage you to regularly stand up and take a walk.
  • Have a walking meeting;
  • Rather than call a colleague on the phone, get up and go see them;
  • Take a walk at lunch;

Summary

Reducing the amount of time you spend sitting can have a dramatic and positive impact on your health. Being aware of the the total time you spend sitting each day is the first step toward making a change. Build good habits, stand up every hour and look for more opportunities through out the day to cut back on the time you spend sitting.

Remember Sitting is the New Smoking. So the next time someone on the bus offers you a seat politely decline, grab the hand rail and say “no thanks I’m trying to cut back”.

Resources:

1 Kulinski, J., J. Kozlitina, J. Berry, J. Lemos, and A. Khera. “SEDENTARY BEHAVIOR IS ASSOCIATED WITH CORONARY ARTERY CALCIFICATION IN THE DALLAS HEART STUDY.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology. JACC Journals, 15 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=2198772>.

2 Anton, S., and T. Manini. “UF Researcher Finds Connection between Sitting and Diabetes.” UF Diabetes Institute. 13 June 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <http://diabetes.ufl.edu/2014/06/13/uf-researcher-finds-connection-between-sitting-and-diabetes/>.

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