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Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation


Updated: Aug 28

Since the 1980s, it has become more and more common for people to spend countless hours sitting at a screen throughout the day, leading to a sedentary lifestyle. Physical inactivity contributes to over three million preventable deaths worldwide per year (6% of all deaths). It is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable diseases, which is the reason why I consider sitting as the smoking of our generation. Research has shown negative impacts across a wide variety of our body systems, including

  • Heart Disease – Prolonged sitting slows the flow of blood, which allows fatty acids to build up in our blood, leading to heart disease. Some experts say that inactive people have a 147% higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
  • Diabetes – Prolonged sitting leads to insulin resistance, with research suggesting there is a 112% increase risk of diabetes
  • Weight – In the sedentary position, our body’s ability to process fat is slowed. Lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme essential for breaking down fats, drops by 90%, leading to fat storage. Excess adiposity in itself can lead to sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, at least thirteen different types of cancer, and arthritis (to name a few).
  • Mental Health – At this time we do not fully understand the link between sitting and mental health, but we do know that both anxiety and depression are higher in people that sit more
  • Cancer – There is an increase risk of some types of cancers, including lung, uterine and colon cancers.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis – A 2018 study showed that 82% of people who suffered from bloods clots sat a considerable amount of time more than the other 18%.
  • Leg and Gluteal Muscles – Inactivity can lead to weakening of the large leg and gluteal muscles. These muscles are important for walking and stabilization. If they are weak, we are more likely to injure ourselves from falls, and from strains when we do exercise.
  • Hips and Back – Sitting causes our hip flexor muscles to shorten, which can lead to hip joint problems, as well as shortened gait. Sitting also leads to chronic back problems due to weak core muscles and compression of the disc in our spine, leading to premature degeneration.
  • Stiff Neck and Shoulders

What can we do to save ourselves? In four words – Move More, Sit Less!

  • Take breaks every hour to stand and move.
  • Take a walk at lunch.
  • Use a standing desk.
  • During meetings, use a treadmill desk or stationary bike desk.
  • Have at least 180 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity (moving at a pace where you can talk, but not necessarily sing).
  • Drink more water (14 cups of fluid per day for men, 11 cups for women).
  • Stretch daily, especially your core (hips, glutes, and back).
  • Strengthen your core – yoga and pilates are great for flexibility and strength. The Emsculpt Neo can also help increase muscle strength of the core and glutes, as well as burn fat, including visceral fat (which is the metabolically active fat that increases our risk of heart disease and diabetes).

Reversing the trend of a sedentary lifestyle with healthier habits today will greatly benefit our overall health tomorrow!