Why Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. ~James Levine, professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic

If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard the phrase sitting is the new smoking for years without really understanding it. Regular exercise is important, as we all know. But why has sitting been compared to smoking, a habit often started while young, that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, harms almost every organ in the body and results in more than 7 million yearly deaths worldwide?  Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, the site statesThat proclamation inspired an aha moment: the comparison is due to the vast number of resulting ill effects which can be prevented.

Hoping these images motivate you to do some moving outside! (Sedona, AZ)

From the Mayo Clinic, Research has documented that sitting for long periods of time is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression and anxiety.  Additionally, too much sitting leads to decreased hip mobility, tighter hip flexors, and weaker legs, the article says, setting the stage for falls in aging adults.  Further, a sedentary lifestyle leads to a thinning of the part of the brain where memory is formed.  Reading about all the harm I could be doing my body has motivated me to break up the time I spend sitting in front of my laptop. 

This big dude was surveying the lay of the land, maybe looking for a little lunch. (The Grand Canyon)

But that’s not all.  According to an article on Harvard Health Publishing, a newer study shows the more hours spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaging in other (sedentary) pursuits, the greater the odds of dying early from all causes.  This applies even when the subjects exercise regularly.  Pretty frightening, I’d say, especially with the constraints of covid that have dominated for almost 2 years.

Looking over Northern Arizona from the San Francisco Peaks

So why does prolonged perching result in so much damage?  The Heart Foundation offers a few explanations: blood flow decreases, the possibility for blood clots increases, fat processing slows considerably, and insulin resistance becomes more likely.  The Hydration Foundation offers another reason: the miles of fascia in our bodies, serving as connective tissue between all of our organs, joints, muscles, etc., also acts as our personal irrigation system.  It’s up to us to hydrate (see last week’s post for more on that) and help our fascia move that water to all cells for their daily processing.  When this is not done, our cells struggle and can malfunction, leading to the harmful/fatal effects mentioned above. 

Tree beauty on the edge of the Grand Canyon

So, what to do?  When you are unable to stand, moving your shoulders, neck, legs, & feet and stretching (see my post on favorite yoga poses, most of which can be done seated) are beneficial, because all movement contributes to healthy functioning.  But whenever possible, break up your sitting every half hour with a few minutes of marching in place, walking, or some other activity to get your blood pumping and your internal water moving deep into your cells.  This keeps your body happy and in active mode during waking hours, fostering prolonged good health.

I love this twisted tree. If you’ll look hard to the left, you’ll see snow in the background – a first for me at the GC!

Making daily efforts to move more and sit less not only adds years to your life, but also contributes to good physical & mental health for the present and future.  The power to prevent many undesirable outcomes is in your hands.  Whether you’re 25 or 85, don’t allow sitting to become your new smoking.

You can’t afford to get sick, and you can’t depend on the present health care system to keep you well. It’s up to you to protect and maintain your body’s innate capacity for health and healing by making the right choices in how you live. ~Andrew Weil, MD

Many thanks to our visiting family last week who gave us the opportunity to show off some of the immense beauty of this area! (And, some of these photos may have been taken by them, so thanks again!)

Kinetic Blessings,

Lisa

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

72 thoughts on “Why Is Sitting the New Smoking?

  1. Definitely a benefit of my new retirement stage is less time in front of the keyboard – per your post, all that sitting wasn’t doing me any favors although the biggest impact so far has to be the damage to my hands thanks to 31+ years in the IT arena. Probably too late to turn the tide back on those joints, but definitely enjoying all the extra time on the feet enjoying the great outdoors. Great shots by the way, especially liked the Raven one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lisa, this was something I really needed to hear. Since I have been having health challenges, I have been doing a lot of sitting and lying down. Bob and I went for a walk yesterday and my stamina was so low that I could only walk about three blocks and a then turn around and come back. It was scary to realize just how low my energy was. I’m going to take your advice and do more moving around. No “prolonged perching” (love that). Thank you for your message.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey Carla, I’m happy this post inspired you! I think stamina must decrease exponentially as we age. When I don’t climb for a couple weeks or more, I return to find my stamina lacking. I don’t remember that happening when I was younger. Use it or lose it definitely applies here, huh? Good to hear you’re going to perch less! Much love to you both! 🌞

      Like

  3. Thank you, Lisa, for this information. Now I know what has been keeping me so tired. I am getting up and moving around. No more just sitting as much. Nice pics. You always have something to share that is good for all of us. God bless you, and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great topic! I do my best to break up my sitting throughout the day. If I have to sit longer than normal I try to balance it out with a long bike ride or more strenuous yoga. I agree this issue is more important than ever with more people staying home and getting out of their homes less.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 💜 This is an awesome post EveryOne with my only concern being this; historically ‘experts’ have got it wrong and ‘mavericks’ have put them right…for example meditation is “sedentary” yet considered healthy; elite athletes drop dead inexplicably…point being don’t blindly trust ‘Medical Experts’ to KNOW!!! EveryBody; get at least three different medical opinions (because ‘Medical Experts’ play Guessing Games) and, Most Importantly, ACTIVELY LISTEN!!! To YOUR!!! Body…which (WITCH!!! 🧙 🪄🧹) is The Most Effective Diagnostic Tool YOU!!! Have; the numbers cannot tell the whole story and ‘Medical Experts’ often force Round Pegs In To Square Holes with comments like “Take this and let’s see how you are in a week or so.”

    …💛💚💙…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yernasia! Good to see you! Funny, I actually thought about meditation while I was composing this post. Good points you’ve made here. Taking responsibility for our own health is the best thing we can do. I am grateful for your visit & comment! 🌞

      Like

  6. Such a great post Lisa and sooo true. As a trainer I can attest to that and now a writer.. too much tine in the chair is tough and I now get how hard it is for those that have to sit but ya gotta move and listen to the bodies messages.. Ok my friend.. this was timely. I’m closing down for a hike. Happy Weekending to you Dear Lisa!💖💖💖👏👏👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We know so well!!! It’s a pleasure.. another borrow with reference to you of course. Maybe you could do my newsletters.. lol. I haven’t forgotten to send.. xooo happy day to you to dear. 💖💖

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Regarding your theme, I concur. Actually, your title says a lot to anyone who takes the time to think about it. There’s no doubt that technology has helped to suck us into doing more sitting. Also, thanks for sharing the beautiful images of your state. 🙂 …. and …. Hi Lisa, I hope all is well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Frank, this is another comment that didn’t hit my feed. I didn’t realize this could happen! I am so sorry for the delays, as I am truly grateful for your supportive comments! I’m happy you enjoyed the info & photos. And I hope Florida is going well for you! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’d never heard that phrase before but as soon as I read it, it made perfect sense. I also read recently that even short (a minute or so) or so of exercise every hour is extremely beneficial; you don’t have to take a huge chunk of time to get benefits. I have to keep encouraging my husband to get up and move regularly. He’s works in IT and has to sit all the time to work. But as he’s at home, he at least has the place to take breaks, if he can just remember to do it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so smart, Janet! You’re right – little bouts of exercise throughout the day are most beneficial. It is the remembering that’s the hard part. I find that using a timer helps. Otherwise, I look up at the clock and 2 hours have passed since I last got out of my chair. Have a great weekend! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your articles are always so fantastic, Lisa. Empowering, educational, and inspirational. I completely agree about being mobile. I also appreciate you writing about moving the shoulders and neck when getting up and being mobile is not an option. So important! Great post, as always! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great article and a great reminder to keep moving. Thank you so much Lisa 💕🌸Sitting for sure is not good I started the middle of the year an office job, although working from home, I just can’t sit for long and sitting on a yoga ball really helped me and alleviates stiff muscles

    Liked by 1 person

  11. By just looking at your beautiful photo’s, there’s no way that you want to sit down (even if you want to 😉)! I must admit though, after our strenuous hike in the mountains a couple of weeks ago, it was good to sit down for a couple of hours 😄. But you’re so right, we need to move more – not necessarily going on a hike, but walking in the garden or in your neighbourhood, gets the blood pumping again and clears your mind!
    Thanks for a great post Lisa!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Brilliant post. I definitely spend far too much time sitting. You’ve motivated me to set an alarm on my phone to make sure I get up and march on the spot every half an hour at the very least. Love your photos too! Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh Lisa, I can really tell the difference in my body since not being able to go on my daily park/ woods walks due to incessant, torrential rain here in north west England for last few months.
    I have downloaded quite a few yoga excercises on Pinterest and hope to get cracking with them.
    I walk daily into town nearby and jobs around the house and that is it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Margaret, sorry to hear about your prolonged excessive rains. But I’m happy to hear you’ve taken matters into your own hands and found some yoga to practice! Changing habits is challenging, right? Wishing you all the best, my friend! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderfully said and this message needs further attention for sure. From a mental health perspective, sitting decreases the endorphins and neurotransmitters that creat possible moments where joy can take place. I thoroughly enjoyed your article and I look forward to reading more of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: