Sitting is the New Smoking

Chances are, as you read this, you’re sitting! Many of us sit all day long at an office desk, then in a car or on a subway as we commute, and finally on our couch as we zone out in front of the TV or our laptop. Our bodies really aren’t designed to sit all day long. Think back to our ancestors who worked in fields, operated machinery, cooked on wood burning stoves and walked most places or rode on horseback (which requires strong muscles). Computers and longer work hours have made it even easier for most of us to spend way too much time parked on our butts.

Chair Twist This iconographic from the American Council of Exercise (ACE), is awesome for showing us just how detrimental sitting for prolonged hours can be. Sitting really can be as bad for us as smoking and can lead to everything from type 2 diabetes, to premature aging. Spending all day in our seat weakens our abdominals and gluteus muscles, gives us back pain, neck and shoulder tension, slower metabolic rates and even higher cholesterol levels. I feel so blessed that my job requires me to be on my feet and on the go a majority of my day; but I realize many of us do have occupations that require sitting at desk, writing, typing, reading, etc. So what can be done? Here are a list of options to help us stay moving no matter what our jobs may be.

*Invest in a standing desk–I really like the ones made by varidesk. They come in all shapes and sizes such as full standing desks, or desks you can put on top of your own desk and lift and lower it. They have laptop sizes as well as ones that hold up to two monitors. The prices are reasonable as well.

*Check out a deskcycle–this is more discreet than a treadmill desk or bicycle desk which many of us can’t afford; nor would our work place environment be too open to having something like it in their space. I personally don’t have the space in my NYC apartment for something too large. The deskcycle is super cool because it can fit easily under a desk and you can pedal away as you type. It’s great stimulation for the brain as well, because it’s healthy multitasking and challenges our bodies and our minds as we cycle and type.

*Invest in a fitbit–or any tracking device for that matter as a reminder to get up and get moving. When you see how few steps you’re taking in a day, these little devices are awesome motivators. You will want to start taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away to walk extra steps to the office, walk to and from work, get up and visit colleagues instead of sending emails, set up walking meetings at lunch time, take a walk after dinner or turn on some tunes and get your heart rate up while you dance instead of shopping online at the end of the day.

*Do some chair yoga!–I’m a huge fan of yoga at your desk. You can do so many moves in your office chair and reap the benefits of better posture, stronger abs, more focus and healthier breathing. You can also lower your blood pressure and prevent or limit the less risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and have much fewer aches and pains.

Let me know what you do to get up and moving more often throughout your day in the comments below. I would LOVE to hear from you!

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3 thoughts on “Sitting is the New Smoking”

  • Being a college student it is not feasible for me to get the cool sitting alternatives such as a standing desk to use during lectures. I see you have mentioned chair yoga. Do you have any other fitness and health or nutrition suggestions for students that have to sit in lectures all day long and then go home and do more school work? Thanks in advance!!!

  • Yes Liana, you can prop your computer up on a tall table such as a kitchen counter top (I do this often) and stand as you write some of your papers or do your homework. Also, try and walk as much as you can on campus and to and from school. Meet with study groups on running dates and schedule an extra 15 minutes in the morning or before bed to do a few yoga poses or lift some weights. I hope this helps!

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