Sitting is the New Smoking

WELLNESS--Many of us have heard that catchy phrase, but let’s dig a little deeper into the science of sitting versus movement. 

Besides the obvious weak bones and varicose veins that sitting can cause, it turns out that more serious diseases are associated with sitting. In a study with nearly 2500 people,  they were able to link sitting and sedentary lifestyles with type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is the name of a group of risk factors that raise ones risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. 

Another study in Europe found that sitting times were highest in males, younger age groups, and people with postgraduate educations. This can be explained through the tendency for men to exercise less and be more drawn to video games. As far as the more educated people, they tend to have more high paying and time-consuming desk jobs leaving less time to move the body. 

There is also evidence showing that even for people that are exercing for 30 to 60 minutes a day, the long periods of sitting besides during that exercise time can be damaging. Just the simple act of standing up and walking helps to enhance the function of the metabolism while simultaneously increasing the bodies function. 

The best thing we can do to prevent the damage caused by sitting and being sedentary is to move our bodies as much as possible all day long. That may mean taking a short 10 minute break each hour or two at work and walking around the block or simply walking up and down stairs at work a few times a day. 

For the more ambitious, there are now treadmill desks. It is basically a treadmill with a large desktop platform that you have your computer and phone and anything else you may need. People set the speed at a low rate of maybe 2 mph and slowly walk while they work. One woman blogged about her experience of using a treadmill desk for a month, and the results were pretty great!  

I push my patients to get a fitness buddy and use that person as someone that you can answer to as far as how much exercise you are doing. 

If you have an office job, grab a friend every day during your lunch hour and go for a brisk walk around the building. If you have kids and find it tough to find time for fitness, bring them to the park with you. There are strollers for infants designed for performance walking or jogging and if you have more than once child, make it a game and take turns to see who can push the infant the furthest or fastest. 

A wrist worn activity tracker is also a fun and helpful way to ensure one is getting enough steps each day. We only have one body, and when something is important enough to us, we always make time for whatever that may be. Make you and your health a priority and start moving today.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)