I’m not exactly sure who coined the term, “Sitting is the New Smoking.” But the first time I heard it, I figured it wasn’t true. Nothing is the new smoking. Smoking will always be smoking, and the consequences of smoking are as dangerous as they’ve always been.
To bolster my point, if you smoke, you have to pay for your cigarettes. If you smoke in New York City, you’re paying upwards of $13 a pack. Now, I’m not great with numbers, but I’m pretty sure it all adds up. Throw in the price of your long-term health and it’ll cost your more than money.
On the contrary, you don’t have to pay to sit down. In fact, many people go to work and sit behind a desk. So essentially, those people are getting paid to sit and not the other way around. And there’s no such thing as “second-hand sitting.” If somebody you don’t like sits down right next to you, you can always get up and leave.
Also, I’m quite positive that sitting doesn’t turn your lungs black. Unless you’re sitting in a coal mine. So you can tell me “sitting is the new smoking” all day long, but I’m not buying it. However, sitting for long periods of time does have it’s disadvantages.
With the advent of the digital age, Americans have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle. In essence, more time is being spent on our rear ends and less time is being spent on physical exertion.
The average American spends about an hour a day commuting to work, which is mostly done sitting down. Upon arriving at work, many of us spend the next eight to ten hours in situations of low physical activity.
At the end of the day, some of us are mentally exhausted, which can be confused with physical exhaustion. This tends to lead to missed gym time, which can lead to a date with your couch for the evening. Before you know it, it’s bedtime, then the process repeats itself the next day.
Consequences of a sedentary lifestyle include:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Lack of sleep
- Lost productivity
As far as our eye health is concerned, long hours behind a digital device can cause eyestrain, which contributes to myopia (or nearsightedness). On top of that, if a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity or even diabetes, permanent vision loss can be the result.
Finding a Solution:
The following ideas can counterbalance a sedentary lifestyle:
- Incorporate a Morning Workout – You may have to wake up a bit earlier, but it’ll result in more free time at the end of the day.
- Bike to Work – You can find a CitiBike on every corner in New York for a reason. In fact, the city is in talks to add even more. If you live in a big city, take advantage of your bike share program.
- Park Further Away – An undesirable parking spot can increase the number of steps taken on a daily basis.
- Take the Stairs – This can also increase your mobility, but may not be a good idea if you work in the Empire State Building.
- Use a Stand-Up Desk – It’s a good idea for company’s to invest in these. If you have access to one, ten or fifteen minutes per hour is a great place to start.
- Go on a Lunchtime Walk – Use your breaks to your advantage. You’re working hard, you deserve it. Maybe go with a friend?
- Fit Bit Competitions – Compete with your co-workers to see who can move the most. If nobody wants to play along, look up the daily recommended rate and try to reach it.
- Commit to the Gym – It might be a good idea to invest your own money in a gym membership. Maybe you’ll get more out of it because nobody likes to waste money. It’s also best to join a gym with several group class options. Don’t be afraid if you’re not in the best shape, just get your body moving and you’ll be at the head of the class in no time.