Sitting is the New Smoking…

Have You Kicked the Habit Yet?

Sitting is the new smoking

I’m Barrie, I’m 86 and I warmly welcome you to my monthly blog

Question: Who coined the phrase, Sitting is the New Smoking? Answer: Dr James Levine of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona (in 2018).

He adamantly claims that: “Sitting is inherently not the way the body is designed to be, and is associated with a catastrophic volume of ill health”.

My purpose is to chronicle the growing epidemic of our sedentary lifestyles, to explore the gravity of the health consequences, and to suggest possible means of embracing a more active and mobile society.

A Sedentary Lifestyle Poses Distinct Health Risks

Even as early as the 17th century, a relationship between sedentary behaviour and deleterious health consequences became evident. Alarming increases in sedentary lifestyles have recently generated a swathe of research into this growing contentious issue.

The negative health consequences of prolonged sitting accumulate when your body chronically remains in the same position with little or no movement for extended periods of time. Several recent research studies suggest that the amount of time North Americans spend sitting down each day, whether at a desk, in a car, or in front of a screen, create health risks comparable to those caused by smoking.

Possible Health Risks Linked to Prolonged Sitting

Among some of the health issues are: cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and some cancers, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and strained nerves, deep vein thrombosis, back problems and poor posture, weight gain, and mental health issues. All these issues underscore the need for regular check-ups with your family doctor.

Alleviate the Issues of Extensive Office Sitting

So much can be done. You might consider some of these options:

  • Have walking meetings with your colleagues
  • Walk to your office colleagues instead of emailing or phoning them
  • Stand up for phone calls
  • Stretch at your desk
  • Do some tasks away from your desk
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Build a standing desk to use for part of your working day
  • Take a break from your chair and use an exercise (stability) ball
  • Walk after eating lunch
  • Take a walk-break after your coffee
  • Refill your water bottle every hour

Watching TV for Long Hours?

Several of the suggestions given above can be embraced also when TV viewing, and when using a computer or game console

  • Literally, take commercial breaks and catch some physical activity
  • Tape programs so that you can stop for an exercise snack
  • Swap some TV times for more active tasks
  • Stretch while you are watching TV
  • Stand for a few minutes each hour

It’s Never too Late to Exercise

If you have not exercised for a long period of time, or if you want to re-kindle old habits, even the thought can seem overwhelming and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There is no need to scurry to the gym, jump on a treadmill, or frantically begin to lift weights. Exercise can be introduced slowly in small increments of time. Even 5 minutes daily is a commendable beginning. I’m 86 and can attest to the incalculable benefits of an active lifestyle.

The goal is to establish routines gradually and consistently, and incorporate them into your lifestyle. You will find an exercise routine with your name stamped on it. Are you willing to commit to YOU?

If you have not exercised for a long period of time, I strongly recommend that you visit your family doctor.

I would be delighted to hear any suggestions you have, and also be happy to answer any of your questions at Over50andfit.

Yours in fitness,



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Sahail Ashraf

Hi there,

You’re an inspiration. I’m someone who used to work from home and it’s a nightmare to be sat a desk all day. And I agree that you don’t have to go crazy on exercise. Even a 15 minute walk can do you the world of good.


Barrie Street

Sahail, thank you so much.

Yes, 15 minutes of walking can be hugely beneficial as this discipline is probably the most under rated form of exercise.

Keep walking.


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