The phrase “sitting is the new smoking” was coined by Dr. Anup Kanodia of Ohio State University. He came to this conclusion as a result of several studies that linked extended sitting to a higher risk of disease and higher mortality rates.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which compared sitting and watching TV to smoking cigarettes, found that while each cigarette you smoke decreases your lifespan by 11 minutes, each hour you spend sitting and watching TV decreases your lifespan by 22 minutes. This translates to every hour that you are on the couch watching your favorite show is killing you twice as fast as smoking a cigarette!
Throughout history and up until about the last 100 years, people were generally much more active than many of us are today. In ancient times, sitting around all day was viewed as a sign of illness, and it is not a coincidence that so many illnesses have been attributed to our modern, largely sedentary, lifestyle.
For starters, sitting for an extended period of time is hard on your bones, and can lead to bad posture. Bad posture causes muscle pain and can even alter the curvature of your spine. Sitting has also been associated with heart disease and obesity.
An Australian study published in 2012 surveyed 222,497 adults over the age of 45, and found that those who spent long periods of time sitting had a higher risk of mortality from any cause. Similarly, a 2010 study performed in the United States of over 120,000 adults found that those who spent much of their day sitting down had shorter lifespans. Both studies concluded that the longer one sat, combined with the less exercise one received, the higher the risk of death.
The obvious solution? Get up and move around! Even if your job requires you to sit at a desk for much of the day, you can still make it a point to get up every half hour or so to stretch, or walk to the water cooler for a drink. This doesn’t seem like much, but breaking up a pattern of sitting with standing, stretching and walking is beneficial, in any amount. The longer you spend in an uninterrupted sedentary position, the worse off your health will be.
Make it a point to spend at least half an hour per day – an hour is optimal – engaging in moderate exercise. A brisk walk outside is an enjoyable way to get fresh air and get your heart rate up. Biking and swimming are also great options. Whatever exercise you prefer, get off the couch and get active!
-The Alternative Daily