Sitting is not the new smoking. There, I said it.
No one should sit on their butt all day, but I refuse to get on board with it being as bad as smoking. (If you hadn’t heard this phrase, “sitting is the new smoking” has been going around for awhile.) I imagine black smoke filling your lungs day after day, pack after pack, scarring and killing everything good in there. The vision of sitting all day at a desk? Not even close.
Of course, there are levels of everything. Are we talking light smoker? Are we talking person who sits all day but takes a walk after work? Or are talking pack for pack compared to day after day of being sedentary? It’s all relative.
Sitting at a desk all day does not an overweight, unhealthy person make — necessarily. Sitting at a desk all day, walking to your car, sitting on couch all night, eating unhealthy, high calorie foods, repeat — this version of extreme is seriously bad news. Even so, it’s still hard for me to wrap my brain around it being as bad as smoking two packs a day.
I recently heard a doctor give a speech on healthy living. I don’t want to call her out by name but…I was excited to hear her thoughts and ideas on maintaining health. In this speech, she told us that even if we workout for an hour in the morning — if we sit all day at our desks — the benefits of the morning workout are “completely negated.”
Completely negated? False. If that’s the only time I have to get my sweat on, it’s not “completely negated” from sitting at my desk all day. Not possible! It was very misleading to tell an audience full of people that.
I looked into the whole “sitting is the new smoking” thing and appreciated one doctor’s response:
“If you’ve got populations that sit comparably, and one group smokes and one doesn’t — and we’ve had that natural experiment, we’re a very sedentary society, we all do a lot of sitting — but there are smokers and non-smokers, and smokers tend to die younger and horribly. So clearly smoking is worse than sitting.
…Smoking is clearly worse, and if you are a person doing both, I’d say focus on giving up the cigarettes and then we’ll get you out of your chair.”
His answer is far longer than that so read the whole thing. I really dislike the fear factor entangled in the message of “sitting is the new smoking.” It’s not so let’s be realistic.
All that being said…
I now have a stand-up desk at work. Yep, I stand up ALL day long. People walk by my office with inquisitive looks, always intrigued by my vertical oddity. Do you like it? You stand up all day? Do your feet get tired? Yes, I like it. Yes, I stand up all day. Yes, my feet get tired.
By the end of the day, I’m ready to crash into a chair. But all day I know I’m doing a wonderful thing for my body. I’m not putting pressure on my spine, I’m not slouching, I’m not crossing my legs into pretzel-like shapes that are very bad for making one’s hips uneven. It forces me to think about my posture, hold my core in and focus on my work instead dazing off or getting sleepy.
I did this for my back but also for my health overall. I drink lots of water and make lots of trips to the bathroom. I’m constantly copying, printing, heading to meetings and finding reasons to get up and move around. Standing up all day makes it that much easier to remain active.
I thank God I never started smoking because I know it’s so incredibly hard to quit. I have a lot of respect for those who can do it! But smoking is way worse than sitting and sitting can be fully enjoyed in healthy moderation.
In conclusion, stop smoking first off. Then, just make sure you spend some time moving, sweating and breathing hard. It makes your body healthier and your outlook on life that much better. To physical, mental and spiritual health through movement.
We may disagree that sitting is the new smoking but I’m quite sure we can all agree getting a move on every day is a good idea! (In fact, why not get a FitBit and watch the miles add up?!)
What do you think about the new phrase, “sitting is the new smoking?” Do you think it’s over-hyped? Do you have a stand up desk or consciously try to move around during the day if you have a desk job?
Core Commit Challenge Day #16