Is sitting really the new smoking? | Planet Ryan - Republic-Times | News

Is sitting really the new smoking? | Planet Ryan

By on April 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Several months ago, a trusted physical fitness mentor in my life mentioned to me new research coming out that stated something along the lines of excessive sitting will at some point be known to be as dangerous as a lifetime of smoking cigarettes.

I know, it’s a big claim. But it sure looks to be true. New studies are emerging that show people who sit a majority of the day, whether it’s behind a steering wheel, a desk, or wherever else, are at increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression and even cancer.

My first thought was, “no problem, I exercise!” And even though that’s still a good thing, turns out that even if you do get 30 to 60 minutes of real exercise in each day, if you’re sitting the remainder of the day, it’s similar to exercising and then smoking the rest of the day.

A recent study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity reported that people spent an average of 64 hours a week sitting, 28 hours standing, and 11 hours walking around (in a non-exercise way). Those are some staggering numbers.

Why is it so bad that we sit too much? The human body was designed to move. So when you sit for long periods of time, your body starts to shut down on a metabolic level. Basically this means your circulation slows to a crawl, which means you use less blood sugar and burn less fat, and that right there will increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers, in a 12-year study in Canada of over 17,000 people, found that the more time people spent sitting, the earlier they met their maker. Age, weight, and exercise level didn’t matter. The bot- tom line is that sitting too much could very well equal an expedited expiration date.

As far as that cancer scare I mentioned earlier? Yes, it’s true and confirmed by the American Institute for Cancer Research. They have linked prolonged sitting with an increase in colon and breast cancer. This is scary stuff to say the least.

So how do you fix it? Get up. Right now! Seriously, even if you’re an exercise junky, you still need to take lots of “stand up breaks.” Experts say you should not sit for more than a half hour at a time. Get up from your computer or couch, and walk around a bit. Experts say that even just a minute or two of moving, every so often, can help battle the ill-effects of sitting for too long.

These relatively new studies also show why the “stand up desk” and other office furniture that promotes good posture are becoming so popular.

Look, I like sitting as much as the next person, and no one is telling you to never sit again, but keep in mind the next time you’re sitting for hours that you are actually hurting your body. Get up and take a few laps around the house now and then. Even making a posture adjustment can be beneficial if you’re not able to stand up and move. The bottom line is to just do something other than remain in a completely sedentary state.

Something to think about.


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Ryan Ledendecker

Ryan is a biweekly columnist for the Republic-Times newspaper. When he's not working, he enjoys a good movie, bass fishing, and CrossFit.