Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Posted by Barsha Dey

sitting-for-a-longer-time-is-harmful

Sedentary lifestyle habits are currently being associated with the risk of diseases. Such a lifestyle trend is particularly worrisome as sitting for long hours can have deleterious effects on physical and mental health.  Is sitting for a long time as harmful as smoking? Can exercise and physical activity negate the dangers of sitting? Read on to know!

Population-based studies have suggested that more than half of an average person’s waking day comprises of sedentary activities. These include prolonged hours of watching television, use of modern day amenities such as the desktop, laptop or mobile phones. These days, Indians are sitting an average of 8.1 hours a day and sleeping an average of 8 hours resulting in a sedentary lifestyle of around 16 hours a day. And guess what—that may be killing you because sitting for a long time is harmful.

According to Dr. James Levine, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative (and inventor of the treadmill desk), “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”

The car-commuting, desk-bound, TV-watching lifestyle has become harmful to such an extent where experts have labelled this modern-day health epidemic as the “sitting disease.”

Can Exercise Reverse The Effects of Prolonged sitting?

Physical activities are very much essential for healthy well-being. It keeps the body and the mind active and alert. But if you are like most software developers, school bus drivers, accountants, insurance sales agents or lawyers, you tend to sit for at least 8-10 hours a day (or night). Studies suggest that a couple of hours of exercises cannot eradicate the effects of prolonged sitting.

Professor Marc Hamilton, PhD from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center tells Men’s Health, “The cure for too much sitting isn’t more exercise. Exercise is good, of course, but the average person could never do enough to counteract the effect of hours and hours of chair time.”

This is an important observation because it suggests that occasional leisure time physical activity even if the amount exceeds the current minimum physical activity recommendations cannot compensate for the effects of prolonged sitting.

Let’s have a look at the major dangers of sitting for a prolonged period.

Obesity and Sitting

Prospective studies report associations between time spent sitting and obesity risk. Obesity is an established risk factor for several major chronic conditions, including cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes and certain cancers.

A study published in Diabetologia, August 2015 by James A. Levine mentions that people with obesity tend to sit for 2¼ hours per day more than lean people with similar professions, economic statuses and home environments. People with obesity tend to sit; walkers tend to be leaner.

Back, Neck, & Sciatica Pain From Sitting

Business man with back pain sin an office . Pain relief concept

One of the most common dangers of sitting for long periods is pain in lower back or neck pain. This makes it difficult for many people to work comfortably at work. Idle time invokes pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back through hips and buttocks and down each leg creating much discomfort.

The workspaces can be ergonomically re-designed to overcome posture related issues. It should encourage a well-aligned posture and unrestricted movements.

Cancer and Excessive Sitting

One of the unexpected dangers of sitting for long periods of time is Cancer. Researchers from the American Cancer Society, Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort (2015) have found that women who spend 6 hours or more of leisure sitting per day have a 10% greater risk of getting certain types of cancer (multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, and invasive breast cancer) than women who spend less than 3 hours of leisure sitting per day.

Another journal published in Plos One, September 26, 2013, reveals that there is fairly consistent evidence that sedentary behaviour and sedentary occupations can lead to a higher risk of some cancers (e.g., colorectal, ovarian, prostate, endometrial). Nonetheless, the findings also concluded that sedentary behaviour increases the risk of cancer-related deaths in women.

Cardiovascular Disease and Excessive Sitting

The results of the study published by Pennington Biomedical Research Center Baton Rouge, LA (2014) and Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, Ottawa suggest that higher the daily time spent sitting in major activities higher is the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

A prospective study enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative (2014) reported that women who spent 16 or more hours per day sitting had an elevated risk for incident CVD compared with women who spent less than 4 hours sitting.

Another analysis of women reported that those who spent less than half of their time sitting had a lower risk of CVD mortalities compared with those who spent more than half of their day sitting.

Type 2 Diabetes and Sitting


diabetes and sitting

Sitting for a long time is harmful as it results in little muscle use and thus, little energy burn. As a result, the metabolic pathways regulating the storage of blood sugars are less active and effective. As a result, the sugar level tends to increase in the blood. Over time, this can contribute to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Know the symptoms of type 2 diabetes here!

The Nurses’ Health Study conducted in Germany (surveyed during 1984-95 and follow-up in 1998), reported that a high leisure-time physical activity level could lead to a reduced risk of incident type 2 diabetes, among both men and women.

Know how to manage diabetes with diet and exercise here!

Call of the Hour

Follow these below-mentioned tips to reduce your sitting time and avoid the dangers of sitting:

  • While watching TV, stand up and move about during commercial breaks
  •  Walk when you talk on your mobile phone
  •  Remind yourself to get up and move once an hour while on your phone or computer
  •  Avoid eating lunch at your desk, move to another location or  go for a walk after meals
  •  Avoid sitting on public transport and get off one stop early to reach your destination by foot
  •  Park your car at a 5-10 min walk away from your destination
  •  Avoid emailing your colleague at work, walk over to them and tell them in person
  •  Convert seated meetings into standing ones
  •  Adjust the height of your desk/computer, if possible, so you can sometimes stand while working
  •  Set screen time limits
  •  Participate in active play with family and friends by going to the park or walking the dog
  •  Stand and fold laundry
  •  Do a few simple exercises or stretches while you watch TV
  •  Take short breaks at work to explore your office building
  •  Avoid the elevator to use the stairs instead
  •  Use the farthest bathroom from your desk at work
  •  Go out on evening walks
  •  Avoid using transport facilities while travelling short distances

Conclusion

A healthy and active lifestyle never goes out of fashion. People are designed to be bipedal since the beginning of civilization. Before being struck by the huge wave of industrialization, people moved substantially more throughout the day than they do now. Sitting for a long time is harmful and deliberate efforts must be made to incorporate physical activities in the daily routine. The work environment, cityscapes and communities can be re-imagined and re-invented as walking spaces. This would offer a healthier, happier, active and more productive lifestyle to fight the dangers of sitting.

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week (or a combination), preferably spread throughout the week. For kids, the recommendation is at least 60 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous-intensity activity occurring at least 3 days each week.

In addition to meeting the physical activity guidelines, sedentary activities must be put on a check. Long periods of idle time must be interrupted. You can use fitness trackers and health monitoring apps to recognise various daily sedentary activities to curb the sitting disease.

Recommended Posts

  • Skip Stein
  • 558 read
How Plant-Based Diet Helped ...

Almost 10 years ago, we went ‘cold turkey’, adopting a plant-based diet....

Read Article
  • Skip Stein
  • 546 read
Fad Diets – Why ...

Every day there seem to be some new ‘fad diets’ that will...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 308 read
Understanding the Concept of ...

Rather than blindly following any of the fad diets for a short...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 490 read
Is Coffee Good or ...

Coffee is world's favourite beverage. The health effects of consuming coffee is...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 546 read
Understanding and Managing Lactose ...

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder where the body is unable to...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 817 read
How does the sumptuous ...

Love Indian food? Yes, so do we! But, is your diet meeting...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 595 read
The Importance of Hormonal ...

An imbalance of hormones in your body can affect its normal functioning....

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1009 read
Why Good Sleep is ...

We all have some sense of the relationship between our sleep and...

Read Article
  • Charu Agarwal
  • 788 read
Understanding Stress for its ...

STRESS is such a trendy word used these days, isn't it!   ...

Read Article
  • Anitha Narayanamurthy
  • 670 read
How to Stay Healthy ...

I often come across clients asking me "Do you think it's a...

Read Article
  • Kanupriya Khanna
  • 635 read
Importance of Nutrition and ...

We live in a time when our children face tremendous academic pressure....

Read Article
  • Kshemina Mhaskar
  • 869 read
Alcohol Free Breastmilk – ...

I have come up with a calculator, with support from my team,...

Read Article
  • Monia Caramma
  • 764 read
Gut Nutrition for a ...

A healthy gut is key for breaking down the food we eat...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 490 read
6 Interesting Facts About ...

The importance of gut health is often neglected. Your gut does so...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 96 read
Diabesity: The Twin Epidemics ...

According to statistics, approximately 425 million adults in the age group of...

Read Article
  • Anitha Narayanamurthy
  • 675 read
10 Ways To Sleep ...

A few years back after the birth of my second child, I...

Read Article
  • Skip Stein
  • 495 read
The End of Meat ...

“The problem is that humans have victimized animals to such a degree...

Read Article
  • Kshemina Mhaskar
  • 852 read
Are ayurvedic tonics safe ...

While breastfeeding, we take utmost care to avoid alcohol, but in spite...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 278 read
5 Simple Diet Tips ...

Losing pounds doesn't have to be torturous. Often, people believe that crash...

Read Article
  • Harshita Dilawri Sachdeva
  • 541 read
How to make Midnight ...

It’s midnight… and are you craving for food? Do you feel like...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 637 read
Intermittent Fasting for Weight ...

According to the ancient Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, people should mend...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 576 read
Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe? ...

The notion is artificial sweeteners are "sugar-free" and a must-have for diabetics....

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 568 read
Circadian Rhythm: Your Body’s ...

Have you ever wondered why you feel sleepy or energetic or with...

Read Article
  • Aastha Jessica
  • 509 read
Keto Diet and Weight ...

Metabolic diseases and obesity have become the world's biggest health issues. According...

Read Article
  • Charu Agarwal
  • 462 read
How to develop a ...

Body image is the perception of a person about his/her physical body...

Read Article
  • Aastha Jessica
  • 106 read
The Origin of The ...

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate protein, and a low-carbohydrate diet....

Read Article
  • Vikraman V
  • 316 read
What is Visceral Fat ...

Body fat can be of several types, each with their own unique...

Read Article
  • Aastha Jessica
  • 480 read
Menopause Side Effects, Causes ...

Menopause is a natural decline in the reproductive hormones when a woman...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 640 read
3 Reasons Why Your ...

Since the past few years, ketogenic diets or keto diets are popular...

Read Article
  • Kshemina Mhaskar
  • 745 read
Alcohol and Breastfeeding: All ...

“Is it safe to drink when pregnant? Are you serious? You are...

Read Article
  • Skip Stein
  • 462 read
Health is Wealth and ...

How many successful people, the rich and famous, the leaders of Nations,...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 660 read
7 Dietary Tips To ...

Our gut is a house to millions of microbes. The gut microbiome...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 313 read
Ketogenic Diet For Indian ...

Maybe you’ve heard the term “keto diet” a lot from health freaks...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 566 read
Importance of Healthy Gut ...

Our gut is responsible for putting our body into working order as...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 322 read
Busting the Myth around ...

There are several misconceptions about . Everyone seems to have their own...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 377 read
Air Purifying Plants – ...

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes 7million deaths...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 291 read
Paleo Diet: How It ...

The food humans have subsisted on for most of our history is...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 593 read
Air Pollution and You: ...

We are all familiar with the term pollution and always hear about...

Read Article
  • Monia Caramma
  • 689 read
Improve Digestion Naturally – ...

We all face some sort of digestive issues every now and then....

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1291 read
BLUE ZONE diet: The ...

Do you want to live longer, healthier and happier? Is this possible?...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 474 read
Fennel seeds: The Healthy ...

Have you ever wondered why many restaurants serve fennel seeds at the...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 631 read
Is A2 milk really ...

These days A2 milk popular as a healthier alternative to regular milk....

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 532 read
Prostate Health: How can ...

Do you worry about your prostate health? Are you at a higher...

Read Article
  • James Corden-Lloyd
  • 463 read
Reverse Oxidative Stress with ...

We have always believed that our health and wellbeing are a result...

Read Article
  • Dr. Swapan Banerjee
  • 417 read
Fight Fatigue by Modifying ...

Do you feel constant fatigue all day round? Do the simplest of...

Read Article
  • Gagandeep Singh Mithoo
  • 1000 read
Exercise, Diet and Balancing ...

Without pain, there is no gain. The road to success and accomplishment...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 547 read
5 Healthy Herbal Teas ...

Herbal teas are gaining immense popularity in India for its different array...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1069 read
Obesity and Insulin Resistance: ...

As per WHO, in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 635 read
Glycemic Index: A Valuable ...

Different foods affect our blood sugar levels differently. Some foods increase our...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 800 read
Caffeine vs. Decaffeinated – ...

The importance of Coffee is immense in many of our lives. Many...

Read Article
  • Kanupriya Khanna
  • 741 read
Healthy Foods for Breastfeeding ...

After childbirth, most mothers can produce a healthy supply of breast milk...

Read Article
  • Charu Agarwal
  • 682 read
How To Deal With ...

Stress is bad and stress reduction should be among your top priorities...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 358 read
Is Coconut Oil Pure ...

Coconut oil had been touted as a "health-food" all across the world...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 809 read
A Vegetarian’s Guide to ...

Proteins are essential for your body's growth and maintenance. However, a protein-rich...

Read Article
  • Prof.V.G.K. Murthy
  • 870 read
Moringa: Nature’s Ultimate Superfood ...

Moringa leaf is a nutrient powerhouse packed with more than 90 nutrients...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1254 read
Improved Gut Health: A ...

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates Hippocrates emphasized on gut...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1001 read
Health And Nutrition For ...

Ever wondered how can we simplify and describe health and wellbeing in...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1660 read
Prebiotics and Probiotics – ...

"If there's one thing to know about the human body; it's this: the...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 742 read
5 Foods that Help ...

Do you feel drowsy the entire day but you just cannot seem...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 697 read
Ketogenic Diet: Is it ...

Towards the fall of 2016, popular stand-up comedian and AIB cofounder Tanmay...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 668 read
The Raging Debate Over ...

A part of the science community strongly believes that genetically modified crops...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 748 read
Single Cell Protein: Next ...

In developing countries like ours, food scarcity is one of the major...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 586 read
10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You ...

Inflammation is the immune system’s natural response to stress, toxins, injuries and...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 753 read
8 Best Foods for ...

A staggering number of people across the globe experience hair loss. Hair...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 620 read
To juice or not ...

As a kid, I always cringed at the thought of eating fruits...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 739 read
Why Are Trans Fats ...

We all love our deep-fried junk food. Fried foods are rich in...

Read Article

1 comments

  • Aastha Jessica
    Reply January 28, 2019 1:34 pm

    Agree

Post your Comments

NAME *
EMAIL *