Sitting is the New Smoking

30 November 2021 Alessyn Hecht

Photo By Olia Danilevich From Pexels

Sitting is the new smoking! 

And the bad news is that even if you went to the gym this morning but then went and sat all day at work, the benefits of the hour of exercise this morning are negated by sitting all day.

According to a review by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute of over 40 research studies on sitting and health risks researchers reached that consensus conclusion that if you sit most of the day you increase your risk for major health conditions, even if you exercise each day.

At the Evidence-Based Integrated Healthcare symposium hosted by RMIT University last year, Professor Neville Owen, Head of the Behavioural and Generational Change Program at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, told guests that “excessive sitting time – whether in front of a television or at the desk – was emerging as a new risk factor for chronic disease.”

Owen compared sitting to smoking with its numerous health hazards including reduced blood flow and spinal stress. He suggested beneficial changes that could be made throughout the day.

His theory, backed by evidence from an array of studies, suggests that those who sit for lengthy periods of time had twice the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even premature death compared to those who break up long sitting periods with regular standing or stepping.  Owen stressed that while periods of standing were beneficial for health, regular periods of moderate exercise bring greater benefits.

So what are some tips for integrating wellness into your everyday at work?

Take regular breaks.

If you discover that you have been sitting for long periods without moving it’s time to change some habits.  Taking breaks will not only improve your physiological wellness but help you be more productive.  

Take regular breaks – when you finish one task – take a break before you move onto the next one.  Recently I was quoted in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on How to Find an Extra Hour in your Day.

My advice is that "You can be more effective by doing less, by defining what is most important to you to achieve that day and just focus on achieving that and doing it well."

"If it is a big job, break off a chunk and set the goal of achieving a segment of it. Once that's done take a break before you reset and concentrate on the next thing."

The other advantage of taking breaks is that you can choose to move around, go for a short walk, do some stretches at your desk.

Wear comfortable clothing.

I’m not suggesting that you’re ‘sitting at your desk in your active wear’.  But Lorna Jane does, in her blog she says “I like to pair a crisp white shirt with a lifestyle pant and pair of heels, or throw a blazer on over a relaxed fit tee or tank. I find that I’m much more confident when I’m comfortable, so I know that when I wear active wear I’ll perform at my best.”

I take the point and I’m sure that would be the same for most of us that we are more confident when we’re comfortable, we are also more likely to be active when we are wearing clothes that make movement easy.  If you need heels then consider bringing some walking shoes to keep ready for a pre/post or lunch time walk.

Take time to breathe.

Breathing is an innate skill.  We took our first breath to enter this world. We can go for days without food, days without water but only minutes without breath.  Many of us are not breathing properly.  Good breathing helps us to relax, regulates our system, gets oxygen to our cells and our brain. Check in with yourself during the day.  Many of us shallow breathe, when we are stressed and often by the end of the day many of us are shallow breathing.  Check yourself, are you only breathing down as far as your chest?  Take some time to sit still and concentrate on your breathing.  Gentle slow breaths right down to your belly. 

Other studies have shown that sitting less and breathing well can slow the aging process.  So forget the expensive face creams and supplements lets:

Move more

Breathe more

Love more

Live more!


Author: Natalie Pickett

Entrepreneur, Speaker, Mentor, Wellness On Time

Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

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