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Why Sitting is the New Smoking

By Genevieve Cunningham

Sitting is the new smoking is a phrase that is growing in popularity. But what does it mean? Many years ago, smoking was just what people did. Though there was some suspicion that it wasn’t the best habit, they didn’t have near the information that we have now. They would smoke and advertise their favorite brand of cigarettes on popular shows. It was a thing, and no one really gave it much thought.

In today’s world, everyone knows the dangers of smoking. It causes cancer and lung disease and shortens lives. Nowadays, it seems that one of the biggest threats to our health is sitting. We sit all of the time. We sit at work. We sit during a commute. We sit at home. And like smoking, no one really gives it much thought. And also like smoking, this new habit is incredibly bad for our health. Still not convinced? Take a look at these significant ways in which sitting may be ruining your health for good.

Sitting Increases the Risk of Heart Disease

Those who sit six hours a day or more may be significantly increasing their risk for heart disease later in life. Excessive sitting has been linked to poor cardiovascular health. Not only are you missing out on crucial exercise, but you’re also slowing blood flow to regions of your body. It’s dangerous, and it may not be reversible. If you’re sitting enough to cause heart problems, you may not be able to jump up and exercise to turn it around. Like smoking, the effects are often permanent.

Sitting Increases the Risk of Cancer

Research has shown that those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at a greater risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. Both breast and colon cancers have been linked to excessive sitting. And of course, both of these cancers can be serious and even deadly. Some studies broaden the dangers and include a heightened risk of endometrial and lung cancer as well. With so little known about cancer, it’s slightly intimidating to imagine that the simple act of sitting can do so much damage.

What Can We Do About It?

The first step is to be aware. Being aware of the problem allows us to take action against it. Some ways to reduce sitting include adding short breaks into your day in which you stand or move your body, investing in a standing desk, and utilizing your free time for movement or activity -- anything but sitting in front of a laptop or the television. All in all, the idea is to recognize the dangers, change our behavior, and boost our health steadily over time.

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