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Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Our bodies are built to move. And many of us are sitting way too much. Between zoom calls, meetings, emails, and a slew of daily projects, we find ourselves sitting more than moving. As a personal trainer, I hear more and more of my clients inform me that most of their day is spent sitting at a computer and not moving around. I always explain you need to get up and move around every so often throughout the day a couple minutes to get some air, get the blood flowing, refresh and recharge the mind. But just how bad is our sedentary lifestyle, and how can we add a bit more movement to our daily lives? Let’s take a look.

So what’s so Bad About Sitting?

Over 25% of American adults sit for more than 8 hours every day. Yikes. Even worse? 44% of those people get little to no exercise. When you sit for long periods of time, blood flow slows down. This can allow fatty acids to build up in the blood vessels. Sitting for extended periods also contributes to insulin resistance which can cause type 2 diabetes and obesity. Over time, this can lead to heart disease. Your body’s ability to process fats is also slowed, and none of us want that. Other health problems include osteoporosis, leg clots, tight hips and back problems. Yikes again. And let’s not forget mental health. Those who sit continuously during the day are at an increased risk of dementia and anxiety. Moving and remaining active is critical to cognitive health.

So How Can We Get Moving?

If you work an office job, I highly recommend walking meetings. Ideally, our bodies need to move every hour. When I discuss with my training clients, I suggest to take at least one meeting per day as a walking call. If you’re not required to be on camera or at your computer, walk around your office or your neighborhood while you’re talking. It’s also a great idea to block your calendar for 15 minutes or so after you plan to eat lunch. Walking after eating is a great way to stabilize your blood sugar. We often hear that we should aim for 10,000 steps a day but many health reports say aiming for 7,000 a day is a great goal. (The Health app on iPhone is an easy way to track your steps – no new wearables required).

If you stick to a regular workout routine, it’s important to note here that your once-a-day workout doesn’t mean you can sit for 6-8 hours straight—movement should be incorporated throughout your day. Did you know...standing at work is a far better option than sitting because standing is a gateway to movement, according to heath experts.

Being a healthy and well person doesn’t require hours in the gym. Incorporating movement as part of your daily life is key. I try to encourage clients to rethink the value and importance of little movement breaks, movement snacks, and short walks. So while sitting isn’t the same as a smoking habit, it could yield similar results if you spend most of the day in a chair. Small blocks of activity throughout the day are the building blocks to a fulfilling and much healthier life. Even better? You can start today.

My top tips:

  • Try limiting how much you sit as much as possible. The gold standard is to sit for only 3 hours a day. This may not be practical for many of us. Do your best to get up once an hour.

  • Sneak in at least one walking meeting per day – this can help you get 30-60 minutes of walking in every single day.

  • If/when you’re watching TV, spend 30 minutes sitting on the floor (not the couch) and do some basic stretches (reach for your ankles or toes, reach arms over head, twist your waist side to side).

  • Take a short walk after lunch and/or dinner.

  • Read up on how breathing can help you achieve better mobility.

Here are a few of my favorite walking quotes: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“Walking is a man's best medicine.”

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking."

Own Your Life, Own Your Choices, XO


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