Pratt: Sitting is the new smoking

Long periods of sitting can increase your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain and other chronic diseases.

We tend to spend more time sitting than any other population in our history.

For many of us, our jobs and our leisure time centre around activities that keep us in front of a screen and on our seats.

In fact, the average adult spends 90 per cent of their leisure time sitting down.

A recent study by the American Institute of Cancer Research shows that long periods of sitting can increase your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain and other chronic diseases.

The surprising fact was that this risk is not limit to people that are sedentary to begin with, but also to those that exercise regularly.

Contrary to most theories about exercise and health, it appears that going to gym a few times a week, or even exercising every day, does not cancel out the negative health effects of prolonged sitting and an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.

Researchers in the field of sedentary behavior make recommend that people with sedentary jobs and lifestyles interrupt prolonged sitting with at least one to two  minute breaks of brisk activity, every hour or two.

For example, going for a walk around the block/office, taking the stairs to get your daily coffee, running in place or jumping jacks to get your body moving.

When you move your body, your leg muscles are active, which aids in decreasing blood glucose and blood fats from the bloodstream.

When you sit, the muscles are inactive, which results in increased levels of fats in the blood, lower levels of good cholesterol and decreased insulin sensitivity.

So when you’re exercising and moving, positive benefits are occurring throughout your body in addition to the natural endorphins and happy hormones felt from exercise.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle, or even an active lifestyle, but a sedentary job, do consider scheduling regular breaks every one to two hours for two minutes from sitting in order to decrease your potential health risks.

Emily Pratt is a naturopathic physician in Kelowna.


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