IS SITTING THE NEW SMOKING?
HOW CAN SITTING BE THE NEW SMOKING?
I was recently interviewed for a story on CityNews about how sitting at your desk can lead to an average weight gain of 10 pounds. Well, this made me expand on this topic further and elaborate just on why the office chair has become the new silent killer.
The mechanics and locomotives of the human body were designed to make us move: walk, stand, climb, and run. Lately, however our jobs have made us submissive to the act of sitting. It is estimated that an average desk worker sits for more than half of their waking hours. The consequences of prolonged sedentary sitting include weight gain due to less energy expenditure and less calories burned compared to counterparts with a more physical job. In fact this inactivity can lead to higher rates of diabetes and heart disease.
So why is sitting the new smoking? In an Australian study in October 2012 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine; every hour spent by participants sitting in front of the television reduced approximately 22 minutes from their lifespan, compared to smokers reducing lifespan by 11 minutes per cigarette.
So is it just from the inactivity? Well, there is in fact a reduction in the number of calories burnt but this type of inactivity also leads to the suppression of the enzyme called lipoprotein lipase which is essential for converting bad cholesterol (LDL) into good cholesterol (HDL). Prolonged sitting can also cause insulin resistance which leads to changes in metabolizing sugar, all which can lead to the development of heart disease and diabetes.
So what can you do to prevent this silent killer from taking over your life? Here are some simple steps to stay active and healthy at a sitting job:
- Keep snacks in the office kitchen to force yourself to get up and move around
- Keep a large bottle of water at your desk at all times and drink regularly. This will force you stay hydrated and also take appropriate restroom breaks to get moving out of your chair.
- Go for walks or run errands that are walking distance on your lunch breaks instead of going to the cafeteria and sitting for longer.
- Get off a stop or two before your actual stop when commuting via subway or bus to encourage more walking. Or if driving, try to park as far away from your entrance especially on days when weather permits.
- Avoid sending emails to colleagues who work in your office; instead walk yourself over to relay important messages.
- Try standing to take phone calls or when conducting meetings rather than sitting
- Try going for a workout on your lunch break
- Use a Swiss ball to sit as this forces more muscle activation and engagement than a traditional stationary chair