Sitting is the New Smoking: 5 Ways to Combat These Dangers

| Live Your Life

Did you know sitting is the new smoking? Sitting for extended periods is linked with several health concerns1,2. These include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, vascular problems, low back and spine issues, and weight gain1,2. Moreover, sitting for prolonged periods increased your risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease1,2.  The easiest solution would be to never sit for hours on end ever again; however, in our modern world sitting is inevitable. It is easy to sit for hours in front of a computer for work, watch TV on the couch, or browse the internet on your tablet for an extended period. Some activities require us to sit or are much more comfortable when we sit back and relax. But there are some ways to combat the dangers of sitting for too long without giving up sitting entirely. Here are 5 ways to combat the dangers of sitting.

  1. Daily Physical Activity: Good news! 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting1. So even though you may need to sit for an extended period for work or a hobby if you implement daily movement into your schedule, sitting has very little effect on your health.
  2. Try a Standing: Daily movement might be difficult for people with a strict schedule to accomplish. If you must sit for a long time, then try standing! You can still enjoy leisurely activities such as watching television or catching up with a friend or family on the phone while standing. You can exchange your desk and chair or a standing desk for those who work at a desk. This is a great way to move around and shift your posture throughout the day.
  3. Walk and Talk: To take it a step further than standing you could implement walking throughout your day. Instead of calling a friend on the phone or chatting over coffee, try going to the park to walk and talk. If you have a meeting, ask a colleague to take a walking meeting instead. You could even purchase a walking pad to go underneath your standing desk if you discover this equipment is right for you.
  4. Take a Break: If the first four suggestions work do not work for you, then take a stretch break. Experts recommend taking a break from sitting to get up, move around, and stretch every 30 minutes1,2. This could be a good time to go see a coworker down the hallway, go to the bathroom, get a snack, or fill up your water bottle.
  5. Compression Garments: One problem that occurs when someone sits for a long time is blood start to pool at the bottom of your legs2. This increases the risk a blood clot can form in a deep leg vein called a deep vein thrombosis aka a DVT2. A DVT is dangerous as it could travel to your lungs2. Being sedentary is one reason a DVT can form as the blood become static and your legs muscles are not able to pump blood to maintain circulation2.  One way to combat this is to not be sedentary and make sure you are moving around every so often. Another way is to use compression garments. Try wearing elasticized compression stockings especially if you are experiencing leg aches, swelling, or restless legs2. Moreover, if you are experiencing these symptoms visit your primary physician for a check-up and for more specific recommendations about these symptoms.

Sitting for prolonged periods is inescapable, but you can make the best of it by actively implementing one or more of the five suggestions listed above. If you looking to improve your overall health and wellness with a personally tailored exercise program, contact us today for an Annual Physical Therapy Exam!


1Laskowski E. Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting? Mayo Clinic. Published 2018.

2Katella K. Why Is Sitting So Bad for Us? Yale Medicine. Published August 28, 2019.

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