Sitting is the new smoking

Have you heard? Prolonged sitting is killing us. In fact, it turns out it’s as bad for us as smoking. And we all know how bad that is.

In an article over at the Harvard Business Review, business writer Nilofer Merchant talks about how sitting has become the smoking of our generation. From adults in front of computers all day, to our kids watching TV or playing on an iPad, we sit a lot; according to Merchant an average of 9.3 hours per day.

Some oncologists contend that this much sitting is equivalent to smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day.

“Sitting is so incredibly prevalent that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it,” Merchant told a TED audience earlier this year. “And because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not OK.”

As soon as you sit down, electrical activity in the leg muscles shuts off, calorie burning drops to 1 per minute, enzymes that help break down fat drop 90%, and good cholesterol drops 20%. People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as those with standing jobs. Arteriosclerosis and cancer ― both linked to smoking ― are now also linked to sitting too much.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a lot easier to cut back on sitting than it is to cut back on smoking. You don’t need pills. You don’t need patches. There’s no withdrawal. Below are 7 simple suggestions you and your family can easily build into your daily routine to fight this “sitting epidemic”:

  1. Have your kids stand once every hour. Move around, stretch for five minutes; even try running on the spot.
  2. Commit to about 60 minutes of activity per day, every day.
  3. Have your family earn screen time by walking.
  4. Look at getting a standing desk for older kids.
  5. Get younger kids out of their strollers and have them walk along with you.
  6. Having meetings while taking a stroll is a good idea at work or at home. Instead of sitting around the kitchen table to discuss things, go out for a “walk & talk”.
  7. Try family yoga. It’s a great way to end the day after sitting at the dinner table. Gentle stretching and relaxing poses break up sedentary time and can even help everyone get a better night’s sleep.

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