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In today’s fast-paced world, where technology often ties us to our chairs, there’s a phrase that’s been circulating in recent years – “Sitting is the New Smoking.” And in an era where many of us work longer than ever in desk-bound jobs, this phrase has never been more relevant.

A sedentary lifestyle, marked by long periods of sitting with little physical activity, has been linked to numerous health risks. Some have drawn concerning parallels of all this sitting to the well-documented dangers of smoking, and it’s not far off base. Here, we delve into the consequences of sedentary behavior and explore some practical strategies for weaving intentional movement into the fabric of daily life.

Our bodies aren’t designed for sitting still all day; it’s like asking a car to stay parked indefinitely. Sitting for long stretches messes with our metabolism, circulation, and even mood, which can lead to a whole host of health issues down the road. So, let’s give our bodies the movement they crave and break up those sedentary spells for a healthier, happier life!

A landmark study tracking nearly 17,000 Canadians found that the more time adults spent sitting, the higher their risk of dying prematurely from all causes – even if they exercised regularly.[1] Let that sink in: extended sitting can potentially negate the protective benefits of your workout routine.

Other investigations reveal a grim parade of chronic diseases linked to excessive sitting, including increased risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.[2][3] On a cellular level, prolonged inactivity appears to trigger an unhealthy condition where our bodies effectively shut down fat-burning mechanisms and blood flows more sluggishly.[4]

The negative effects of all this sitting go beyond just the physical – a growing body of research correlates prolonged sitting with higher risks of depression, anxiety, and decreased life satisfaction and overall well-being.[5] Our minds seem to require regular movement to maintain their equilibrium and buoyancy.

So how can we overcome the hazards of a sedentary lifestyle? First, we need to change our mindset about exercise. Instead of viewing it as a dreaded chore, we can find enjoyable ways to incorporate more movement into our daily routines.

For example, you could start your day with a grounding sunrise walk with a friend. While you’re working, you could take stretch breaks at your desk, using simple yoga poses to help unkink your muscles. These don’t have to be intense workouts, just chances to get your body moving.

Throughout the day, look for opportunities for “movement snacks” – short bouts of physical activity you can sprinkle throughout your day. For example, you could do some leg lifts while waiting for the printer, or march in place while taking a call. Little motions like these can help keep your metabolism active and your body moving.

There are some smart tools and techniques that can help us incorporate more movement into our desk-bound workdays as well. For example, investing in a pedal exerciser to go under your desk allows you to pedal while working at your computer, keeping your legs moving and burning some extra calories.

Standing desks are also useful for avoiding the slouched postures and lack of movement that comes from sitting all day. 

Setting reminders on your calendar or phone can help build the habit of taking movement breaks throughout the day. You can schedule alerts every 60-90 minutes that simply prompt you to get up and move around for a few minutes – even just doing some simple stretches at your desk can make a difference. Or you can set a mid-morning and mid-afternoon reminder to step away and take a short 5-10 minute walk to get your body moving.

Little tricks like these make it easier to inject pockets of physical activity into our otherwise sedentary desk jobs, and when we build an environment that reminds and enables us to move more, it becomes much more feasible to increase our daily activity levels despite our modern office lifestyles.

The key is listening to your body’s natural need for physical engagement. Our ancestors were nomadic and moved continually – sitting all day goes against our human impulse for motion. Reconnecting with the pure joy of movement can boost our sense of well-being, and making a conscious effort to sit less can have a profound impact on our health and longevity.



Vanessa Harris, MNT
Oncology Nutrition


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