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Is Sitting Worse Than Smoking?

Today one of my clients, who’s a bonafide fit senior citizen, told me about a headline from his AARP magazine. The headline really grabbed my attention because it’s something that I believe in wholeheartedly.

The headline read “Sitting is the New Smoking“. Playing on the now accepted understanding that smoking will shorten your life span and lead to disease. And today it’s coming to the forefront that sitting on your buns all day will damage you in much the same way.

Now, most people will confidently say that sitting all day isn’t THAT bad, and it’s definitely no where near as bad as smoking!

Though if we take a deeper look we find out that the side effects of sitting are much bigger than they seem. And by the way, experts agree that all truth passes through 3 distinct stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

sitting worse than smoking

It was only 30 years ago that doctors heavily advocated smoking. Check out this popular ad’s killer (pun intended) marketing: For 30 days test Camels in your ‘T-zone’ (T for Throat, T for Taste).

First smoking was ridiculed, now it’s viewed as totally ridiculous (it tells you it will cause cancer RIGHT ON THE PACK). T for Throat… Cancer.


As an intelligent human being, we always want to be on the pioneering side of discoveries that can give us life or shorten our life, and not just waiting for the popular opinion to say it’s O.K.

So, let’s get in to why sitting on your hiney will take away your vitality and what you can do about it.

According to the New York Department of Health, “Less active, less fit persons have a 30 to 50 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Physical inactivity is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease itself. It ranks similarly to cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. One reason it has such a large affect on mortality is because of its prevalence. Twice as many adults in the United States are physically inactive than smoke cigarettes.”

Bottom line, twice as many people are couch potatoes or desk jockeys than people who smoke cigarettes. It’s more dangerous in our society to be inactive simply because there are so many people who are guilty of it.

Here’s another thing that the Department of Health revealed, “It is estimated that approximately 35% of coronary heart disease mortality is due to physical inactivity. Physical inactivity has a major economic impact. It is felt through the loss of income and productivity when disabling diseases result. It was estimated that in 1989 physical inactivity cost the nation $5.7 billion due to hospitalizations and other related health care costs.”

That was in 1989…. today we’re up to HUNDREDS of billions.

National leaders are so concerned about the countries assets, but we need to be more focused on getting people OFF their ASSets 🙂

If a 35% chance of dying from coronary heart disease doesn’t motivate you to get up and move, then you might as well light up a cigarette too because your ship is going to be going down FAST.

If you’re someone who’s got the picture and want to know the best strategies to be more active, then I’ve got 5 great tips for you below.

5 Tips to Stay Healthy and Mobile Throughout the Day:

1. Use a Water Alarm: There’s a cool app I have on my phone that alerts me when it’s time to have some clean, refreshing water. You know and I know that we can get caught up in the events of the day, and not get the amount of water in that we need. This app is a perfect solution for that: Drink Water

My clients use it too, and they’ve given me a lot of great feedback. The added benefit is it really breaks up the monotony and gives us an opportunity get up, move around a bit, have some water, and recharge.

2. Stretch for Success: Aging is related to stiffness and lack of mobility. Who wants some of that???

I didn’t think so.

The simple solution is to get up every 60 to 90 minutes to stretch your body from head to toe and get the blood flowing in your body and brain again.

Even in baseball they have the 7th Inning stretch so that you can peel your butt out of the chair and put some life back into your legs. I know how tough it can be, especially when you’re in “the zone” with your work. But getting up and stretching will only make you perform better, trust me.

3. Walk & Talk: I do this all the time when I’m doing phone interviews or having meetings via phone. I walk around my office, or if the weather is good, I’ll walk around outside. Not only do you get the benefit of being up and active, but the fresh air and movement actually makes your brain perform better.

You can take this and use it for face-to-face meetings too. Go for a stroll and discuss business. Or make it a habit that when ever you get on the phone, you only do so if you’re standing or walking around.

4. Desk Work 2.0: Today there are cool things you can utilize to keep your body more fit and active WHILE you are working at your desk. There’s a whole new craze of standing desks that you might want to look into. I talk about them briefly in my article about N.E.A.T. (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). If that’s not for you, something that I do personally from time to time is use a Stability Ball as a desk chair when I’m putting in work on the computer. Make sure that you start off slow and build up your minutes, because just sitting on that thing can be a good workout for your back and core. And don’t just sit, sit WELL. Use good posture.

5. Gamify your T.V. Time: Gamification means to use game strategy and game thinking in typical “non-game” context (like cleaning, brain storming with coworkers, or watching T.V.) For example, while watching your favorite t.v. show, use the commercial breaks to get in shape. See how many push ups or pull ups you can do during the breaks. Try and beat your score each time. Or see if you can hold a plank through the entire commercial break. If you want to take it to another level, you can even get your family involved. Commercial comes on, dad vs. son for the king of push ups (dad, you’d better put some weight on your back to make it fair!). Or mom vs. daughter, dad vs. mom (that ought to be interesting), or any other way you want to slice it. Families that play together, stay together.

I hope this information and these tips have been helpful for you. Please leave me a comment below and share your thoughts, it would really mean a lot!

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  1. Pingback: Simple Weight Loss Technique That Helps You Shed Pounds The N.E.A.T. Way – The Shawn Stevenson Model
  2. Wow! Im know that change has to be knocking at my door. My job consist of me sitting down at least 7 1/2 hours a day. Im glad this article came out and i was able to read and take heed at the same time. this is very important to know, and i will be spreading the word to my co-workers as we chat and talk about exercise etc. this was an eye opener for me.

  3. Lovely article, Shawn! Am dealing with so many desk bound individuals that i am exhorting them to move every 60 mins are so…to use their office furniture as exercise props for bending and stretching….and getting up for that water, NOT coffee break, is so so important! And the feed back is it really makes a difference to their energy levels!

    Will share this article with my students…the tips are so easy and do-able…thank you.

    1. Rahi, thank you so very much for sharing that. Office furniture as tools for stretching… brilliant!

  4. I am THRILLED to read such an intelligent and simple article!

    As an ex-smoker I know most of my time spent smoking was..sitting down! With this incredible article here I clearly see I was increasing the risks involved. I probably would have quit sooner if information like this was in circulation sooner! Glad you are bringing to the table Shawn!

    What I think is, the tips you give here helps our bodies keep oxygen flowing and maintain healthy circulation. These two things really keep our body and mind healthy.

    These simple tips allow anyone to practice a way to enhance performance anywhere at anytime.

    The water app- I agree with Traci S. – something to look into. Always a fresh idea with your information Shawn. I learn something new every time.

  5. Interesting stuff! I asked my job for permission to use a stability ball at my desk years ago. I was shot down quick. I was told it was a safety hazard. I asked for a standing desk a few months ago, let’s see how that works out. I’ve been jumping rope while watching TV lately. I definitely need to do more stretching though.

    1. Jumping rope while watching t.v.! Brilliant! I am totally stealing that idea. Great share Lakesah P.

  6. Great article!!
    In my line of work, I get a lot of upper body activity, but to balance it out I find myself slipping into little things like squats as I am cleaning up or “secret” booty crunches in between working with clients. Thank goodness the door is closed because I’m sure I look lovely doing it. 🙂 Depending on the schedule of the day too, I have been known to wear out a distinct pathway from my work area to the front desk. In other words. I WALK a lot.
    I have gotten much better at utilizing commercial breaks if and when I have the tv on too. Gotta love those planks. 😉
    Interesting about the water app. Never heard of that. I will have to check that out now that my phone is smart. 🙂
    As always, thanks Shawn! Ttys

    1. Traci, awesome insights! It’s always helpful to know what’s working for people… And I promise I’ll keep the booty crunches secret 😉 Though I think a lot of people are going to be interested in how to do them now lol. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Smoking is always bad, it’s a money maker n yes the government is going to push it, even at the cost of killing someone.
      Thanks Shawn food the exercise n advice. Go visit someone who has cancer if u think smoking is safe. Please love yourself n do not smoke.


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