Is sitting really the new smoking?


Unni Greene, Certified Master Trainer

Unni Greene, Certified Master Trainer

There has been much talk in the news lately about the risk of too much sitting. In fact, the detriment of sitting too long has been compared to the risks of smoking. Can sitting too much really affect your health that much?

Let’s take a look at the research.

Sitting in excess of two hours a day has been linked to the increase in obesity and metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes that includes increased blood pressure, insulin resistance, excess belly fat and elevated cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In a recent study people who sat for two hours per day were compared to those who sat for more than 4 hours per day. The individuals who sat longer had

  • A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
  • About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

The increased risk was separate from other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure. Indeed, these findings parallel those of comparing non-smokers to smokers.

As our lifestyles include sitting in a car, sitting at a desk, and sitting in front of a TV or other screen, what can we do to mitigate the dangers of too much sitting. Some people have already started using “stand up” desks to be able to work standing up. The good news is that recent research also shows that by exercising 60 to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day seemed to eliminate the increased risk of death in people who sat for more than eight hours a day. Walking or biking for an hour on most days would be an easy way to meet this goal. Sure, it is a big time commitment, but well worth it since you will inevitably not just feel better, sleep better, lose weight but also live longer!


Unni Greene is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Master Trainer. For more information, contact Unni at SoMi Fitness 305-669-1997 or


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