Warning: Sitting Is The New Smoking

Know the dangers of sitting and ways to avoid the sitting disease

- | 119 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Health & Wellness

Office man suffering from sitting disease

Do you know that sitting is the new smoking? Sitting is like you’re smoking even if you’re not, because excessive sitting is going to kill you, softly and slowly.

No, please don’t take this lightly, especially if you are blogger or writer.

This is no joke but a real warning – sitting is killing!

I am not talking about passive smoking, but your passive lifestyle that endangers your life more, making sitting worse than smoking.

Though sitting is not literally smoking, but the similarity is in the number of resulting deaths due to excessive use of both.

Smoking is not a disease, but sitting has been termed a disease.

Actually, sitting disease is a term given for the long periods of physical inactivity and its negative consequences. It refers to the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.

While a cigarette packet comes with a statutory warning, your modern lifestyle isn’t labeled with such warnings.

The result – we are carefree.

That is why posts like this are needed – to increase awareness so that you start taking care of yourself. If you are aware of the dangers of sitting, you might take up a “standing” resolution.

However, even though the health and medical experts all round the word have been raising this alarm for the last few years, sedentary living has increasingly become a norm everywhere.

The fact is that excessive sitting means lack of physical activity, due to which, the metabolism of your body goes down. Thus, over time, your body becomes a hub of sedentary lifestyle diseases.

This is dangerous because sitting might appear as a harmless normal activity, and long sitting hours might be part of your daily routine. But it actually does more harm than good.

As a blogger, I do sit for long hours and probably you do too. Yes, I take my breaks in-between, but those are not good enough. You will learn why, once you read a little further.

All authors, bloggers, office workers, drivers, writers, night workers, couch potatoes, and others are susceptible to suffer from the sitting disease.

You need to be aware that sitting is the new smoking, and in fact it’s even more deadly. It’s a silent killer.

The only way to avoid this sitting disease is to educate yourself and take preventive actions.

“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” ~ Martha Grogan, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

Sitting Is The New Smoking – The Dangers Of Sitting

Do you still have doubts?

Of course, the sedentary lifestyle diseases include hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease mainly; sitting is the latest add-on to this class.

The sitting disease results because of our lifestyle habits, which are increasingly becoming sedentary.

Look at this screenshot I captured while I was searching for my query related to “sitting”. The results were astoundingly shocking!

Google search screenshot for sitting disease

Now, some would say, “What in the world, can’t I even sit?”

Of course, you can.

It’s only excessive, continuous sitting for long hours, without any sort of an activity break, which is dangerous and unhealthy.

Studies conducted globally show that people sit for 7.7 hours a day on average, while a few others estimate that most people these days sit up to 15 hours a day.

According to a news report, about 86% of the American workforce keeps sitting for 13 hours a day. This includes the time you sit and watch TV, work on the computer, and other sitting down time at home.

See this infographic to know what sitting does to you.

Infographic showing that sitting is harmful than smoking

Did you see how sitting is related to smoking? Isn’t that a deadly comparison?

Most bloggers almost sit and work for 5 hours, so as per the information in this infographic, a blogger’s lifestyle is like smoking a pack of cigarettes everyday!

That’s right. Sitting is directly related to death or mortality. Yes, the computers and automated machines are a reason, but you cannot put the blame on them entirely.

We are to be blamed for the choices we make. Sometimes our job requires us to sit for long hours, but it’s up to us to take small breaks, or even stretch out while sitting.

With time, the computers have become smaller and people have grown obese because of lack of physical activity. This cartoon strip best illustrates the gradual change in the working lifestyle.

Cartoon strip showing evolution of computer sitting

I’m sure most of you aren’t really obese, nor does the use of computers by default make you obese. But even if you’re not obese, are you fit and healthy otherwise?

Sitting takes a toll also on the people who appear seemingly healthy.

If you don’t balance your work with physical activity, you increase the chances of developing the sitting disease.

The American Medical Association (AMA) agrees that long periods of sitting are dangerous because it promotes sedentary lifestyle and increases the risk of mortality.

Like, the more you smoke, the higher are the chances of suffering from cancer. Similarly, the more you sit, the more vulnerable you are to the sitting diseases, which makes your life difficult, and reduces your life span.

I found this diagram that explains it all.

Sitting is killing poster

Are you now convinced that sitting is the new smoking and it is killing you?

Do you know what happens due to the sitting disease? Let us try to understand what happens to your body when you sit for long hours.

Do you want to know how much you sit? Check out this sitting-time calculator on JustStand.org, where you will find lot’s of other useful information about the ill-effects of sitting.

Why Sitting Is Not Good

As I mentioned earlier, the metabolism rate of your body goes down if you keep sitting down for long hours.

In fact, changes in your body start as soon as you sit down, and you don’t have to wait long to see the side effects of sitting.

Remember that the human body is not built and meant to sit for long hours, and that’s the reason sitting takes a toll on your body.

The following happens to your body when you sit:

1)      Calories burns at a slow rate of 1 calorie per minute

2)      Fat reducing enzymes drop by 90%

3)      Electrical activity in your leg shuts off

4)      Good cholesterol levels drop after sometime

5)      Effectiveness of insulin drops, thus raising the risk of diabetes

The sitting disease can cause irreversible damage if you do not act in time. Whatever you do, you need to cut down on your sitting time and take active breaks in between.

“We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9 or 10 hours of sitting.” ~ Genevieve Healy, PhD

Sitting Disease – The Silent Killer

Sitting is bad because it makes you fat. Once you are fat, you open the doors to a host of sedentary lifestyle diseases.

Diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and many others are all silent killers. You can now add sitting to this list too. Even cancer can silently develop within your body, and you wouldn’t even know it.

Here’s an infographic that is a recap of everything about the sitting disease.

Infographic of sitting disease

You need to cut down on your sitting if you want to live long and happy.

If you sit for more than 3 hours each day, you risk becoming obese, developing kidney disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, apart from increasing your chances of cardiovascular disease.

That was all about the problem. Here are some solutions for you.

“Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” ~ James Levine, MD, PhD

Ways Of Avoiding The Killer Sitting Disease

Though it is easy to say to sit less to avoid the sitting disease, but it is not always possible.

However, if you can do it, then try to sit for not more than 3 hours per day .This way you’ll increase your lifespan by 2 years.

There are more ways to decrease daily sitting. For example:

1)      Do not sit at a stretch – get up every 15 minutes. Do anything you like, or just stand.

2)      After every hour of sitting, walk for about 10 minutes.

3)      Work on a standing desk for as much time as you can. Standing is a lot healthier than sitting.

Do you know what Matt Cutts’s challenge for June is – a treadmill desk!

It’s the perfect combination for those who work long hours on computers and want to keep the sitting diseases at bay. 🙂

Even Yaro uses a stand up desk, as he had mentioned in his interview on this blog, and you can read about how he uses it here.

Since women are more likely to lead a sedentary lifestyle, they should be more careful and take preventive measures to avoid the sitting disease.

Remember that your half an hour brisk morning walk or a gym stint is not enough and is not going to help you much if you don’t reduce your sitting time.

Make a habit of standing up as much as possible. I know it’s a tough one for me, but I am going to start standing up much more from today, aren’t you too? 🙂

Standing increases the metabolism rate, increases blood flow, burns more calories, as well as improves posture and tones the muscles.

Needless to say that you don’t have to stand all day, but you’ve to mix standing with sitting, such that you stand more and sit less.

Interrupt your sitting with low intensity or medium vigorous physical activities like standing, stretching, walking or jumping, marching, running, and playing sports.

Make your aim to live an active lifestyle that will make you live long, healthy, and happy.

So, if I am ready to change my lifestyle and get avoid the sitting disease – how about you?

Stand up, and start living your life now 🙂

Over to you

Do you believe sitting is the new smoking? What do you think about the sitting disease and the ways to avoid the dangers of sitting? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

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Show Comments

119 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. drpkahlon

    2017-10-10 at 3:43 pm

    Of course, Sitting for a long time is very dangerous. Research suggests that sitting for a long time will increase your risk of some types of cancer, including uterine and lung cancers.

  2. Eve

    2015-11-06 at 5:50 pm

    Loved this post. 🙂 After the first few lines I stood up and started standing at my desk. I have been doing a lot more sitting recently and have found that I have much less energy than I used to. I’m going to try to remember to stand while I work rather than sit.


  3. Sherman Smith

    2015-06-15 at 6:42 am

    Hey Harleena,

    I didn’t know how serious just sitting for long hours was. I know that it affects o esity but haven’t realize the other affects.

    I just read an article by David Leonhardt about the same subject. Like I was telling him, one good thing about my job is that I’m a field computer technician so I usually walk from site to site to fix computer problems although I can fix them remotely from the comfort of my office but I get bored just sitting there.

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m going to pass this on to a chiropractor friend of mine. Take care!

  4. Vee

    2015-04-03 at 10:40 pm

    Great Post! As many mentioned, I knew sitting for long hours is not good for health but didn’t know this bad. I’m committing myself to using a sit-stand type of desk. Thanks for the article.

  5. Mayura De Silva

    2014-07-03 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    As you know, I’ve been away from blogging for a few months. Landed on your blog today and scanned through the posts I’ve missed. This topic caught my attention implying a red alert 🙂

    If I’m so serious, l should ditch my computer and follow the lifestyle I had in my break I guess. Walk, cycle, climb, exercise and don’t even think about sitting for hours. Usually I do sit around 8 – 10 hours each day when I work or blog.

    I was concerned about my health more than I used to since last year and made some lifestyle changes, including taking more breaks, low / high intensive exercises and maintaining the posture. I feel much refreshed and energized, and less cravings now. However didn’t think about less sitting and more standing / walking though.

    Practically, standing up for every 15 minutes is very challenging. Isn’t it? Hmm… Exercise ball is a good suggestion, but may not possible for some time here. I have a notifier set up to notify me every hour to take a break and stretch my neck / legs etc. though I’m not suffering from any pain but sometimes I ignore that ’cause if I take that break, I have to spend more time to be focused again. Whether it’s writing, coding or troubleshooting a problem. No problem with gaming as I can pause it.

    Did you find most practical advises on enforcing ourselves to sit less, Harleena? 🙂 I’d love to know and follow. In the meantime I’ll follow what’s capable and already been depicted in your post. Glad I’ve already took some action. This is indeed a red alert for most of the workforce I believe.

    Plus, as our generations used to sit more, isn’t there any researches indicating our bodies are transforming to that rhythm too? I wonder. Genetics can play a big role to prove some facts wrong as I find in some situations.

    Apart from the subject, I can see a lot of changes already been made here. New comment system, design changes, new plugins 🙂

    Well, now I have to post this comment and stand up right away, Harleena 🙂 Gotta decrease the time I sit. It’s now or never.

    Thanks for the golden advice and you have a fabulous day dear 🙂


  6. RcikSoordhar

    2014-07-01 at 7:12 pm

    Hey Harleena,
    Thanks for posting an amazing article and warn us about dangerous effects of sitting, wondering for your next blog that contain how we can recover from it if we have a all day sitting job??

  7. Ana Hoffman

    2014-06-25 at 9:44 am

    I knew there was a good reason to get coffee every 15 minutes… lol

    Great piece, Harleena; I don’t know a single person online who doesn’t need to know/do this.

  8. Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    2014-06-15 at 1:14 am

    I agree that sitting is dangerous and that it is becoming toxic in today’s world where we are always glued to a screen. I think a good way to combat it for bloggers is to get a stationary work bike. It has a table that you can place your laptop on and you can just bike while you do your work. It is perfect : D.

  9. Addison Grey

    2014-06-09 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    You have posted amazing information. Sitting is bad for the health i know about this, but after reading your concept i feel its very dangerous for health. I am almost my time spending in sitting condition. Its very dangerous for me and also for other people whose working long time i sitting position. In future definitely am changing my schedule.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Keep it up 🙂

  10. Nanda Rahmanius

    2014-06-09 at 9:59 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Awesome information, indeed!
    I have realized that sitting for too long is not good, but this article discuss it in great detail. For me, providing regular time for exercise is my way to reduce the ill effects of sitting.

    Thanks for sharing this informative article, Harleena.
    It seems I also have to be more careful from now on. 🙂


  11. Chery Schmidt

    2014-06-09 at 8:42 am

    Hello Harleena,

    Yikes sitting has been termed a disease. I am getting out my ball tonight and I am also going to rig up some sort of a standing desk.. OMG I have packed on some weight over the winter, enough of this sitting WOWSY!!

    You have opened my eyes with all of your photographs above.. Chery :))

    P.S. I did land here tonight Via Kingged

  12. Lea Bullen

    2014-06-08 at 1:48 am

    I knew sitting was not the healthiest but I didn’t realize it was that bad. But it does make perfect sense.

    That cartoon with the man at the desk with the expanding waistline, I’ve seen that happen many of times in difference offices. People even joke about it and call it the (company name) ten.

    I would love to get up and move around more frequently but I’d have to find a way to do that and still be productive. You know, without disrupting my work flow.


  13. Ilka

    2014-06-07 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Harleena!

    I honestly thought that a walk every day or an Hour in the Gym is enough. I don’t get up every 15 minutes to be honest. I couldn’t focus on writing that way.

    But I do see that the all in all fitness is going down sitting a lot. I guess I try running up and down the stairs a little more and walk with my papers while proof reading 🙂

  14. Ahsan

    2014-06-07 at 1:44 pm

    Hello Harleena Singh,

    As you mentioned I never think it deeply. Yes sitting certainly the killer if we sit for long time & the disease mentioned is just move us to grave.

    I think its time for everyone to think about it. In job, we pass 8-10 hours sitting condition which is common scenario. We must realize its harmful long time effect.

    Anyway we don’t want to lose any human being with such terrible disease.

    Have a safe weekend 🙂

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Warning: Sitting Is The New Smoking

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