Can Being Sedentary Have the Same Risks As Smoking?

We know smoking is bad for our health, but how many of you think of the negative relation to sedentary lifestyle having the same effect that cigarettes do?

I’ve devoted most of this month to the topics related to the benefits of activity. I’ve educated some of you and reinforced for others that they are either making healthy choices for their body or that they “need” to make healthier choices. We’ve all heard that we should participate in moderate exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week or 150 minutes each week for health. Much exercise physiology research over the past 10 years or so has shown the benefit of accumulating this activity over the course of the day. However, there is more to the story developing. And there is a “happy ending”!

Researchers have been looking into the risks to our health of sedentary or sitting lifestyle, even if you achieve the 30 minutes (or more) of exercise. It seems that the more we sit, the higher our risk for insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, elevated cholesterol, breast cancer and colon cancer.  And, of late, many of the researchers are presenting their findings in relation to the ill effects of smoking on our health. We know we should exercise and should move more and that these are healthy choices for our body. We know smoking is bad for our health, but how many of you think of the negative relation to sedentary lifestyle having the same negative effect that cigarettes do? I never did until I saw a presentation a few years ago at a conference. The analysis presented equated the negative affect on our bodies of one day of inactivity as equal to smoking 5 cigarettes and the effects of one week of inactivity equal to the effects of smoking a pack of cigarettes!  This analogy came from a cardiologist well versed in the effects of both.

This makes sense when we know that moving and being physical improves the blood flow and oxygen to our muscles and organs. Movement helps us remain strong, flexible, and mobile. When our heart gets pumping it feeds the rest of the body! A recently released study in the related that 10 % of deaths globally can be linked to inactivity, the same number as attributed to smoking deaths! Worldwide, half a million to 1.3 million deaths could be averted each year if our level of inactivity were reduced by 10 - 25%! Many other large studies suggest that participation in physical activity is associated with a 20 - 40 % reduction in all-causes of death compared to inactivity. And there are numerous studies showing inactivity had a higher association with mortality (death) than did weight! Meaning, better to be fit than thin and best to be “ideal weight” and fit.

Are you ready to move now? Part of the “problem” is that technology and affluence has aided in our ability to remain primarily inactive. We not only need to exercise purposefully, we also need to get up and move during the day. Take back your chores and think of them as opportunities to move. It matters most that we move, stand, move and get our blood pumping. We don’t have to sweat a lot, we don’t have to go to the gym or participate in activity that we don’t like- we need to move! Be creative-

•  take the stairs one flight,

•  take a lap around the store hanging onto the shopping basket for support,

•  change before you leave work so you’re ready when you get home (less distractions),

•  get up and do circles in your cubicle every hour or go to the farthest bathroom to relieve yourself of the appropriate amount of water that you drank.

Very few people have such limitations that they can’t move somehow, maybe not your first choice of movement, yet movement all the same. As the weather is cooling, our “better options” will continue to present themselves. Lastly, movement actually gives you much more energy  and alertness than a cup of coffee or “sitting down and resting a minute”.  Since every one of my clients states they want more energy, I believe this is a good motivator to move!

Next week I’ll be writing about healthy grab and go meals with the kids back in school and the after school activities in full gear.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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