Sitting is the new smoking… you may want to sit down for this. Actually, it’s probably better if you stand back up. An insidious sickness is causing roughly 9 percent of the world’s population to suffer a premature death. For people who live sedentary lives — and are often sitting down —anyway. Roughly 700 million of the 7.6 billion people worldwide are at risk. We should call it what it is — a pandemic.
Time to Stand up
Neither, the act of sitting, nor the use of a chair, is anything new. Experts believe chairs were probably known as far back, if not even earlier, than the Early Dynastic Period. During the ancient times, it was likely chairs were covered in cloth or leather. The chairs were also situated much lower than today’s chairs. Most noteworthy, chairs were chiefly utilized by dignified individuals. Placing somebody in an armchair was a great honor. In some of the households of common people, the master was entitled to the use of the chair. That is, if there were any chairs at all.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research has linked sitting for long periods of time to a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome— a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to consequently increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
What is Cardiovascular disease?
First of all, the term “heart disease” is often used interchangeably with “cardiovascular disease.” A class of heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. Cardiovascular disease or CVD’s, are the number one cause of death globally. More people die annually from CVD’s than any other cause, says the World Health Organization.
Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk, says,
“sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
Credited as having coined the phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’, Levine and other researchers have found evidence furthering their belief that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses like various types of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Why is sitting analogized with smoking?
Studies have shown the effects of long-term sitting are probably not reversible through exercise or other good habits. Sitting in addition to smoking is clearly bad for our health and wellness, and the only way to minimize the risk is to limit the time we spend planted on our rears.
What can you do?
Almost all cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, and excessive use of alcohol.
Furthermore, utilizing NRT’s and e-cigarettes can aid in a person’s desire to kick their habit of traditional cigarette use. For those suffering with, or experiencing low energy expenditures, a slowing metabolism, altered posture, back and spine pain, reduced social skills, depression, loneliness, obesity, diabetes and or cancer, Levine suggests:
- Periodically moving around, since you may be stuck in your seat.
- Standing while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
- Using a stand-up desk.
- Having organized breaks through the day.
- Walking laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.
- Positioning your work surface near a treadmill so that you can be in motion throughout the day.
In other words, be resourceful. For a longer, healthier life, seek out ways to stay active.
In conclusion, there is your Tuesday shot of the truth.
Especially relevant: if you missed last Tuesday’s truth, click here.
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