Sitting – The New Smoking

14 Jan Sitting – The New Smoking

You are probably, right now, comfortably sitting. While now seated, you are probably supposed to be working instead of reading these cool articles – yes?

That is between you and your employer.

That sitting part though – that is business about which your body may take issue.

Evidently sitting is the new smoking. Smoking is something you can quit to make the single most significant improvement in your health. Is quitting sitting as hard as quitting smoking? Perhaps – but alas we put the cart before the horse. Let’s first look at the problem with how many Americans spend almost all of their time at work and at home – on their duffs.

Studies show that most Americans spend most of our waking time sitting and doing next to nothing – physically. We watch tons of TV, sit at our computers and work all day (or web surf) and we sit in our cars and curse the traffic for longer than we like. All these things are sedentary activities which are killing us. Many recent studies support this. One study by Charles E. Matthews and company showed that even exercise does little to counter all of our infernal sitting!

Some of the health issues that be caused by incessant inactivity are as follows:

  • Heart disease – sitting isn’t giving the heart a reason to work and stay healthy
  • Type 2 diabetes – lazy muscles don’t respond well to insulin, causing overproduction by the pancreas, throwing rhythms out of whack
  • Colon cancer from excess insulin and lack of anti-oxidants present in more active bodies
  • Flabby abs, hips and glutes – who likes flabby abs hips and glutes?
  • Soft bones – Activity prompts the body to build strong bone mass while loafing turns off bone production
  • Poor brain function – activity spurs the production of chemicals in the blood stream that keep the mind sharp
  • Strained neck, shoulders and back from poor sitting posture.

Another staggering statistic shows that those who watched the most TV had a 61% higher mortality than those who watched the least TV! Is that saying that the TV is deadly or that sitting while watching is killing us? I would bet that if we were all on treadmills while watching TV we would live a lot longer.

So what can we do about it?

  • Let your employer know that sitting all day is bad. Forward them this article
  • Spend a little money on a tall drafting table and standing up while working. You can compromise and have a bar stool just in case
  • Spend a ton of money on one of the new, fancy treadmill – desk combos
  • Get up from your low desk and stretch out, go to the restroom or water cooler as often as you can
  • If you don’t have any of these options while at work, at least make sure that when you aren’t at work you are as active as you can.

I understand that I am quite fortunate in that I stand most of the day teaching American Heart Association CPR classes. I do have a drafting desk that I use to do the administrative side of my work. Standing has made a big difference. I noticed the difference when our offices were in transition during the summer. For 3 months this past year sitting at my desk was the only option. I felt more fatigued at the end of the day, felt less productive during the day and did gain some weight. I will blame the weight on the desk, you can decide if that’s an excuse or not.

Get a tall desk – try standing for a few months – let me know what you think about not sitting!


Benjamin Karp is the President of Georgia CPR, LLC.  GACPR is a full-service safety company.  They offer complete solutions including individual CPR training, product consultation, and advice on developing a custom AED emergency response program for your entire organization.  For more information or to register for an Atlanta CPR Class visit:

Benjamin shares his opinions, not legal advice, about increasing performance and limiting liability.