Sitting is the New Smoking

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“Sitting is the new smoking” might be a phrase that you’ve heard lately in the news, but what does it really mean? It has become socially acceptable for us to sit almost all day long. You sit in your car, at your desk at work, when you eat, when you have long conversations, when you are watching television or reading, when you are busy studying and so many other occasions.

If you were told to stand up and stretch during some of these occasions, you’d think it crazy. Standing in a theatre of any kind is considered rude, it can come across as rude to stand in class, and sometimes it’s unacceptable to stand up at work (middle of a meeting with your CEO? Probably going to get some weird stares). It begs the question, why does it even matter if everyone is doing it?

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane: do you remember when doctors were prescribing tobacco smoking to people? It became the norm and everyone went about smoking all day long. That is until they established more research and realized how dangerous it was for your health. The same thing is happening with sitting. As more and more research is coming out, health care professionals are beginning to realize the sitting as much as we are is causing a huge health concern. A decrease in physical activity is linked to a decreased quality of life, and can shorten your life expectancy. Obesity is a huge concern in our society, and with obesity comes a slew of other health concerns such as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, poor posture, chronic pain and more.

What can you do to help yourself? Move! Your body was made to be put into motion, and it isn’t as difficult as you may think.

Use these tips to fit a little more movement into your lifestyle:
  • If you have more than one washroom at your place of work, choose the one that is farther away
  • Suggest walking meetings. You and a colleague can go top up your water, talk about important issues, and keep your body in motion all at the same time
  • Binge watching a Netflix series? (It happens!) Try standing for part of an episode, or a whole one! Extra points if you dance to the background music
  • Not a fan of standing? No big deal, take stretching breaks. Stand up at your desk, stretch out your shoulders and back, shake those legs. All movement is worth your time, and you body will thank you
  • Involve your family and friends! Challenge someone to see who can stand on one leg longer, walk to the park instead of drive, toss the ball with your dog

Getting more physical activity in your day doesn’t have to be difficult. It does not have to involve hours in the gym a day if that is not for you; however, you do need to be mindful. Don’t forget that your body deserves to be put into motion. Sitting is the new smoking, but the great news is you don’t have to keep sitting.

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