Sitting Is The New Smoking

As you know the focus of my messages to you is food and nutrition. But on occasion I will stray into other topics that relate to having a healthy body and healthy weight. Because of course nutrition doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We humans are complex beings and the context, a.k.a. our lifestyle, is important. Today is one of those days where I’m straying into a non-nutrition topic. If you’re trying to lose weight/ aiming for weight loss (or not gain any more weight) it’s going to be of interest to you. There’s a new saying in the public health world:

Sitting is the new smoking

What this phrase is getting at is that there’s growing evidence that those 30-60 minutes of exercise a day aren’t enough to counteract all the sedentary, sitting time that we now have in our lives. There’s also studies that show that slim people fidget more than overweight people, thus burning more calories every day.

The problem is that we’ve introduced so many conveniences in our lives that there’s very little we have to do physically any more. That hour in the gym isn’t making up for it.

The good news is that it doesn’t take any expensive gym memberships to turn this around. But, it does take effort. And, in our high-stress, busy lives it seems counterintuitive to make things less convenient.

Before we talk about making changes, it’s worth taking a look at our lives to see just how sedentary we are. Tomorrow, keep a log of what you do all day. Note if you’re standing, sitting, etc. Add up all the sitting hours in your day. How many of your waking hours did that make up? It’s likely pretty scary.

Okay. Now that you’ve seen just how much time you spend sitting, here’s some ideas for adding more non-sitting time in your day:

  • Park at the far corner of the lot – not the closest spot.
  • Take public transit instead of driving. Maybe even get off the bus a stop or two early.
  • Walk to do your errands instead of taking the car.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. I’ve lived for many years on the 4th I can’t tell you how many people take the elevator. It especially makes me laugh when I see that they’re taking the elevator to go to the gym. Work or live on a high-up floor? Take the elevator up and the stairs down.
  • Prepare dinner yourself (instead of take-out or pre-prepared meals)
  • Wash your dishes by hand instead of running the dishwasher.
  • Play with your kids. Go to the park. Or play hide and seek. Or have a dance party in the house.
  • Walk your dog (don’t just watch your dog run).
  • Grow a vegetable garden. Even if it’s just pots on your patio.
  • Set an alarm at work and get up from your desk at least once an hour.
  • If you have a say in your office’s layout, move the printer and copy machine away from your desk and into an adjacent room (or on the far side of the room).
  • Get a standing desk. Or, MacGyver one. I work using a laptop. It’s the perfect height when I place my shredder on my desk and my laptop on top of my shredder (it’s unplugged of course – safety first). Voila – standing desk!
  • Meet friends for a walk instead of coffee (or walk and chat while drinking your coffee).

With a little creativity, the ideas are endless. How have you found ways to not sit? I’d love to have you share them in the comments below.