“Sitting Is the New Smoking”

Friday Jun 9 | BY |
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You may have heard the statement “Sitting is the New Smoking.”

When I first heard this saying, I thought it was crazy.

Sitting is NOT like smoking.

But recently, I looked more into it, and it completely changed my outlook on one aspect of health that most people neglect.

Here’s the problem: we sit an average of 9 to 10 hours a day. So we sit more than we sleep. We sit more than we stand or do any activity.

We sit in our cars. We sit to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We sit to work. We sit to watch TV. We sit at the movie theater. We sit at the dentist’s office. We sit everywhere.

What’s the problem with so much sitting?

You’ll be surprised to hear that it’s not really “back pain” or any such thing (although, that can happen too!).

The problem with so much sitting is that our bodies were not meant for it.

For millions of year, we were in constant movement for 10-12 hours a day.

Switch that to sitting for 10 hours, and there’s no amount of exercise you can do that can undo the damage.

Even if, after your day at the office, you went to the gym for two hours, it wouldn’t negate the damage done by sitting.

That’s what led Dr. James Levine to coin the phrase “Sitting is the New Smoking.”

When you stand, your body works very differently than when you sit.

Sitting for hours a day causes the following damage:

  • Because blood flow slows down, you increase your risk of heart disease
  • Your insulin is negatively affected by just one day of sitting 10 hours a day
  • Sitting increases your risk of cancer, for reasons we’re still speculating about. Perhaps it’s the antioxidant processes that are engaged when we are in movement.
  • Sitting compresses your body, slowing down digesting, leading to cramps, heartburn, constipation and bloating.
  • Brain function slows down when we sit. Your brain gets less blood and oxygen.
  • Because of the above, mood worsens.
  • Posture gets worse, leading to strained neck and shoulders.
  • Your entire body degenerates when you sit 10 hours a day. Standing requires tensing of the abdominal muscles. Sitting leads to weak abs, leading to mobility issues.
  • Varicose veins develop.
  • Your bones get weaker.

One study found that you can increase your lifespan by two years by sitting down three hours or less a day.

Another study found that each hour spent watching TV after 25 reduces your life expectancy by 22 minutes.

On the other hand, each cigarette reduces your life expectancy by 11 minutes.

Hence… sitting is the new smoking!

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Suzanne says:

    It definitely is. In 15 years of desk sitting, I’ve gone from running half marathons to severe pain where i could hardly hold up my posture. It’s taken 6 months of physical therapy where they have called me a “whole body project” just to be functional again. I’ve got to find a new career!

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