Sitting is the New Smoking

“Sitting is the new smoking,” announced the doctor strolling across the stage at the 2015 Integrated Health Conference. I, together with my husband—a bladder cancer survivor—were among nearly 3,000 participants who had gathered to hear about non toxic, alternative approaches to preventing, healing and reversing cancer, as well as other chronic conditions. Our speaker was discussing those factors that contributed to serious health problems. It turns out that our 21st century sedentary lifestyle is a huge one.

“Sitting at your computer, driving in traffic, lounging in front the TV all add up to hours of inactivity and this has been linked to heart disease, cancer and premature death,” she stated. My husband and I looked at each other and squirmed in our chairs at the irony. All of us in the audience had been sitting inactive through three long days of presentations about strategies for leading healthier lives!

“Let’s keep a sense of humor about this and then go for a long walk,” I suggested.

But, as it turns out, sitting is no laughing matter. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine has reported that sitting more than 11 hours a day posed the highest risk for premature death. It’s also been linked to high blood pressure, obesity and bad cholesterol…even if we exercise an hour a day!

What’s to be done?

The experts are suggesting that taking breaks every half hour or so and walking around for a few minutes will help. Standing desks at the office to avoid sluggishness and improve blood circulation are also becoming an option. And why not start a health trend at the office by being the first to take a standing break during a meeting?

As a writer, sitting at my computer for long hours while I wordsmith an article or book chapter is normal. So, this doctor’s lecture was a wake up call for me. Truthfully, I had heard this before, but you know what they say: We need to hear a message up to seven times before it really registers.

Today, I’m trying to take more frequent breaks and exercise more often. I do this, in combination with healthy eating and managing stress as best I can. I keep long daily to do lists and while staying healthy does demand time, focus and energy, I now remind myself that being well is what allows me to accomplish all these things! So, my new new mid-year resolution— and I wish this for you, too —is to keep moving, stay well and enjoy life!