You’ve seen the news stories about sitting and how it’s just as dangerous as smoking. It seems a little overblown, though. Can sitting on your tush really be as bad as filling your lungs with smoke?
When you’re sitting, you’re not burning a lot of calories because you’re not moving much. Ergo you're at risk of weighing more, thus opening yourself up to health problems like an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But it’s a lot more complicated than just sitting down.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study over 13 years on public servants to see if people had a higher risk of diabetes if they sat for work or to watch TV. There was a very slight increase in risk for TV watchers. The greater risk seemed to be for people who were physically inactive and obese. Sitting at work wasn’t related to long-term health issues.
The researchers thought there could be a correlation between socioeconomic status and risk. They thought perhaps that people who are watching TV all day (because of unemployment or chronic health issues) are maybe eating unhealthy food. Therefore they were stronger candidates for diabetes. These are the nuances that previous studies didn’t pick up on. It's more than just movement -- it's an entire lifestyle.
The other key finding was that two hours of physical activity a day goes a long way at combating sitting at a desk for eight hours. This doesn’t mean hitting the gym for both hours either; it can also mean walking to work, doing housework and/or playing with your kids -- just not sitting around.
As for those standing desks, they don’t really do much to help your overall health. Standing doesn’t necessarily raise your cardio levels, especially if you’re just standing still working on a computer. A brisk walk around the office (as well as a gym session somewhere in your day) would serve you better in the long run.
So, sit your butt down at work, and feel free to chill out a little bit at night; a little TV won’t kill you. Now, smoking is still bad and still worse than sitting any day.
TL;DR: Sitting isn’t really the new smoking, but 24/7 marathons of “Below Deck” while eating party subs day after day just might be. Sorry, Bravo fans.