Is sitting the new smoking?

Well the answer in short is yes as many experts now brand sitting as “the new smoking”.  This term was coined by an American cardiologist, Martha Grogan who stated, “..for people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”  

Global studies show that on average we sit 7.7 hours a day, and some results estimate people sit up to 15 hours a day. That sounds a lot but you would be surprised how easy the numbers clock up. So what about you? Calculate your daily total here.


The scary fact is that sitting for long periods doesn’t just affect your posture like you might believe. Excessive sitting can be linked to heart disease, cancer, varicose veins, osteoporosis and a wide variety of musculoskeletal problems. This poster is a great resource for your workplace and explains all the risks in one nice page!


More daunting still is the fact that additional gym-time and adding more exercise into your daily routine may not be enough to fight the problem. Most of my clients are quite active people but if they are sitting for a whole working day at their desk (even after fitting in a 20km run in the morning) they are still at risk of developing some pretty serious health conditions. This shocked me and got me calculating my own sitting time. Not good – when you’re a mobile physio, a lot of your day is spent driving!


It all sounds a bit depressing so what can we do about it?  Quit our desk jobs and head to the hills? Or, less drastically perhaps, look to incorporate four x 15 minute standing periods into our day. Studies have found that by doing this you will be 87% more energised, 66% more productive and have 50% less joint pain. Pretty powerful stats.


My tips on how to achieve that hour:


- Stand up every time the phone rings and stay standing throughout the call (unless you work in a call centre!)


- Have a meeting standing up


- Stand up from your desk on the half hour every hour for 1 minute.


- Have your lunch/snack standing up or go for a lunchtime walk


For workers that must sit the obus forme chair support transforms ordinary chairs into ergonomically correct seating. I use this in my car and can vouch for it’s effectiveness.


Essentially there is no safe way to sit for a long period that’s clearly the conclusion of the research. But that research also highlights the obvious remedy: standing!