Functional Medicine on Sitting Is The New Smoking

Functional Medicine: Smoking

A couple of weeks ago I presented a Wellness session with an organisation. Throughout the 90 minute talk, I would make them all stand up and shout “Sitting is the new smoking!” A bit of fun but I was also trying to convey an important health message to them.

This catchy statement, “sitting is the new smoking” is currently in vogue and many people are using it as a hook to get us thinking about how we have engineered movement out of our daily life.

Is sitting really that bad for us? Common sense dictates that frequently sitting for long periods, whilst perhaps not quite as detrimental as smoking, can have a negative impact on our health. Research now backs this up, showing that sitting for long periods is not good for our health.

Speaking on this topic reminded me of a lecture I attended over 10 years ago on the genetic basis of movement. It was presented by 2 professors of exercise medicine and concluded that our genes just do not work optimally unless we move consistently. In fact, your body expects movement daily, and quite a lot of it too.

For many people, however, the nature of their job and the design of their workplace dictates that they do spend several hours each day sitting.

Standing workspaces are a good alternative although it’s important to remember that standing without movement for long periods can also cause a problem due to pooling of blood. Walking meetings are an excellent option!

Employers should be giving employees the option to either sit, stand, walk or run those stairs and to understand the health message as well as the greater shared purpose of the message.

It might not be quite the ‘new smoking’ but sitting in the workplace is a health concern certainly worth being given more attention.

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