Monthly Archives: May 2015

If Sitting is the New Smoking, how Can We Quit?

desk-jobNo doubt you’ve heard the new catch phrase “sitting is the new smoking” being bandied about. You may even have heard me say it and, yes,  you might hear me say it again. The phrase has been credited to Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative. What he’s telling us is that sitting for long periods of time increases our chances of developing a variety of serious diseases including some types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This is supported by some pretty good research.

So what do we do if our job requires us to sit at a desk for the majority of the day? Hell I’m feeling guilty just sitting here typing this! One recent suggestion has been to stand at our desks rather than sitting. Okay, so how does THAT measure up. Well according to researchers at the University of Utah Health Sciences, it doesn’t. However, they haven’t left us high and dry, or seated and defeated as it were.

A new study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology says that if we can get away from our desks for two minutes of walking each hour we can decrease our risks. “Light intensity activities for two minutes each hour was associated with a 33 percent lower risk of dying.” As a matter of fact, that two minutes each hour can add up to the expenditure of 400kcal per week. That’s pretty good!

The study emphasizes, and of course so do I, that it is still important to include two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity each week. That can be walking, gardening, going to the gym, or a variety of other activities.  So if you’re sitting in front of a video game?  Get out and shake it!


  • Stamatakis E, et al. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: Population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2011;57:292.
  • Dunstan DW, et al. Television viewing time and mortality: The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation. 2010;121:384.
  • Levine JA, et al. Move a Little, Lose a Lot. New York, N.Y.: Crown Publishing Group; 2009:26.
  • Matthews CE, et al. Amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors and cause-specific mortality in US adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;95:437.