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Sitting is NOT the New Smoking, Here's Why.

posture sitting Jun 07, 2023


Read Time: 3.5 minutes

Imagine reading an article titled, “Standing is the New Meth.” You might think to yourself, well that’s a little extreme, but not so long ago “Sitting is the new smoking” was making it’s rounds online.



You've probably heard this catchy phrase and it's been drilled into our minds so much that many now accept it as truth. Like many things on the internet, it doesn’t paint the full picture. It’s not that sitting is inherently bad but rather how we’ve grossly misunderstood this mantra, leading to an oversimplification of the real problem.


So how did we arrive at this drastic conclusion? How did the act of sitting, which we’ve done since forever, suddenly become as deadly as inhaling carcinogens?


Let’s clear up a few misconceptions and dig a little deeper:



Misunderstanding #1: The act of sitting is inherently bad for health

This is a blanket statement that misses the nuanced reality. Sitting in itself is not the problem, it's extended periods of inactivity, or a sedentary lifestyle, that can lead to health issues.


Misunderstanding #2: Any amount of sitting is harmful

Some people interpret "Sitting is the new smoking" to mean that any amount of sitting is harmful. While it's true that prolonged, uninterrupted sitting can contribute to physical discomforts, short periods of sitting, especially when interspersed with bouts of activity, are normal and fine.


Misunderstanding #3: Standing desks completely solve the problem

While standing desks can be part of the solution, they aren't a silver bullet. They should be used as part of a broader strategy that includes regular movement and postural variation. Even when using a standing desk, it's essential to incorporate movement into your day, as standing in one place for prolonged periods can also lead to issues such as back pain and leg fatigue.


Now, the underlying issue with the "sitting is the new smoking" belief is that it distracts us from the real problem. It’s not sitting that's the problem but a lack of movement. Just like anything else, moderation is key. Sitting is fine, as long as it's balanced with regular physical activity.


So, what can we do about it?


1. Shift your mindset from "sitting is harmful" to "movement is essential"

Instead of vilifying sitting, we should be promoting a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. Think of ways to integrate more movement into your day, even when you're at work or stuck at home.

Actionable Tip - Set a minimum amount of steps you need to hit everyday, even if it isn't the benchmark of 10,000 steps a day.  Start with a quick walk around the neighborhood to start.


2. It's not just about being on your feet.

Proper ergonomics, posture, and regular breaks to relieve physical and mental stress also play a crucial role. Consider investing in a good-quality chair with back support and make sure your workspace is set up to maintain a comfortable posture.

Actionable Tips - I like to say finding a good desk setup, is as important as finding a good mattress. For many of us, we spend just as much time at our desks. Experiment with different chairs, monitor heights, etc and find what works best for you.


3. Standing isn't a one-stop solution.

Standing desks are great, but they should be used as part of a broader strategy that includes regular movement and postural variation. A balanced approach is best.

Actionable Tip 

1.  Alternate sitting and standing. An easy way is sit for 45 mins and stand for 15 mins (find a breakdown that works for you.) 

2. Stand during tasks like reading and responding to emails. Sit during projects that take more brain power.


The idea that "sitting is the new smoking" needs to fade into the darkness, and for good reason. We’re realizing that the issue isn't as black-and-white. The new narrative should be about promoting an active lifestyle that includes regular movement and healthy habits.



Whenever you're ready, here is the best way I can assist you in enhancing your mobility:


Self-Care Mobility: If you're just starting your journey towards better mobility and wellness, I recommend starting with my New Self-Care Mobility Program: Transform your Mobility in a sustainable way. This 30-day program will teach you the techniques I use with my clients to improve flexibility, increase stability, and enhance overall wellbeing.


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