Sitting is the new smoking

By  | 

Think of all the time you spend sitting every day. At work, on the drive home, to watch TV. Experts now say that even if you get in an hour of exercise outside of work, it's not enough.

In fact, studies show all of that sitting is as bad for us as smoking cigarettes.

Linda Kenedy, a professor of practice at Creighton's Healthy Lifestyle Management program said it's become a cultural norm to sit as much as possible. Instead, she said, sitting should be a break from all the standing and moving we're doing.

She said our body is basically in constant shut down mode.

"It's not doing what it's supposed to do," she said. "Our bodies were truly meant to move. So when we sit all the time we're doing the opposite of what we were designed to do."

And that's hurting more than just your waistline. That sedentary lifestyle is contributing to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and many other health risks.

It's why Kenedy said we need to start introducing some more movement into our work day.

For one, she said to set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you to get up every hour. Think of it like those reminders on a fitness tracker. Kenedy said it's easy to get caught up in a project, so this will force you to take notice of how long you're sitting.

You can also encourage your office to have stand up meetings. Once one person starts to do it others will also take notice. If a standing meeting isn't enough, do a walking meeting.

If you print something, Kenedy said to try to use the long route to the printer or copier.

The same goes for the restroom. Take the long way, or better yet, go to a different floor so you can climb a few stairs.

If you can, use the stairs instead of the elevator as much as possible.

And one of the things Kenedy recommends the most: get a standing desk. There are models that adjust to your height and can also lower to allow you to sit when needed. Kenedy said since she got hers a year and a half ago she's seen an improvement in her health.

"I noticed that energy-wise during the day I just had more of it," she said. "That's all I was doing, going from sitting to standing. I just had more energy. I just felt better, my legs felt better, my back felt better at the end of the day."

Kenedy did warn that it takes some getting used to. She said you should take baby steps, improving just one thing in your health at a time and working toward an overall healthier lifestyle.

If that means you take the stairs everywhere this week, that's one step. In time, you'll notice that by changing one thing you automatically start to become a little healthier in other aspects of life.

Kenedy said that's the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

"Consistent exercise," she said. "The key word is consistent."