Sitting is the New Smoking - FIT Human Performance

Sitting is the New Smoking


March 16, 2014Sitting

According to facts published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, researchers at Harvard University, Northwestern University, and the CDC found some interesting results from their studies.  They found that while getting your 150 minutes of exercise each week IS important for maintaining good health, it still might not provide the same protection as say … getting off your butt and not sitting so much.  (As I sit here writing this article.)  They also found that for every hour of sitting, there was a 46% decrease in the ability to perform everyday tasks in those over 60.  The scientists found that sedentary hours had a stronger negative effect than moderate exercise’s positive effect  when it came to things like being able to get around the house, being able to feed yourself, staying out of nursing homes and general independence when you are older.  Those likely to be sitting too much are the older, male, more educated, but less wealthy, smokers, and those who have chronic illness.  Their research also attributes 5.3 million deaths world wide per year to sitting.

Other studies have found that for every hour of TV watched when you are older than 25, 22 minutes are shaved off your lifespan!  Yikes!  Football season is killing me, I guess.  A 20th Century nightmare!

So although it may seem drastic or an overreach, there is some truth in it:  SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING!

Losing our ability to move and move with ease is something each of us dreads.  We all know that 10, 5, or even 2 years ago, we moved with greater ease.  Stairs were a breeze to climb up and down, deep knee bends were smoother, and long walks were a breeze.  Can you still sit on the floor easily?  Then can you get up off the floor without using your hands?  Sitting is a problem that we certainly don’t talk about and most of us don’t realize the effect that it has.

I did notice that last week when Sharon and I were walking through the Galleria Mall that there were couches, chairs, and benches everywhere, and that they were full of kids just plopped down in comfort.  And that my friend is a slippery slope – kids should be full of energy and ready to run!!!  As for the rest of us, we need to lead by example, spend more time on our feet and be more active.  SO HOW???

My wife, for example, had me build her a “standing desk” for her office.  Donald Rumsfield always had a standing desk in his office.  A friend of mine said that all of the guys at the firehouse in The Woodlands have standing stations so that they will be on their toes and not get complacent.  And how about sports … not too many athletes are in seated positions.  Maybe the surgeon general should post a disclaimer on furniture that says, “Attention:  Sitting may be hazardous to your health.”  Or instead of smoke breaks at work, people get ‘stand breaks.’  Some public areas instead of couches and chairs might have areas that say:  “Caution:  This is a stand only area.”

Butt, and I mean that figuratively, get up off of it and use your body!

In good health,


“It is my last wish to be buried sitting up.” – Bette Davis