“Your Fitness Health Coach says: Sitting is the new smoking” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic (the person who coined that term) – “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”

Epidemiological data, from almost one million people, link excess sitting to 34 chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity and metabolic, cardiovascular, joint, sleep, and psychological disorders

But, why does it get compared to smoking?  That seems pretty far-fetched if you ask me.

Or is it…researchers claim that the effects of sitting are NOT reversible through diet and exercise.

I call bullshit on that one unless you really get into the nitty-gritty of exactly what you’re talking about as far as “irreversible.”


If sitting is the new smoking, then let’s just stand!  Hold up…standing can cause issues in and of its self.

According to Hazards.org (yeah…that’s a real website) “Individuals spending most of the day on their feet every working day are at greater risk of health problems. Such as varicose veins, poor circulation and swelling in the feet and legs, foot problems, joint damage, heart and circulatory problems and pregnancy difficulties.” And “Chronic heart and circulatory disorders are linked to prolonged standing at work. Prolonged time in an upright posture at work may cause hypertension comparable to 20 years of aging.”

That’s some scary shit.  So sitting is like smoking and standing is like….not that good for you either!?

So…what to do!  NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) or spontaneous physical activity (SPA).

That’s so NEAT!

Basically NEAT/SPA is the spontaneous movement that occurs (or at least it should) throughout the day.  Examples of this are:

  • Getting up and walking around for 10 minutes every hour.
  • Taking a walk after every meal for 10 minutes.
  • Performing some calisthenics every hour, for instance, 10 burpees every hour or jump squats.
  • Taking the stairs.
  • Parking farther from work.
  • Doing 10 air squats every hour.

You get the picture.

NEAT and SPA can add up.  In fact, I found a number of studies all saying the same thing.  The more you move at low intensities throughout the day, the leaner and healthier you will be.  They also went on to say that the more you move in a day…again at low intensity and often…the more weight you will keep off after you lose it.

There was not a clear consensus on exactly HOW MUCH or HOW OFTEN to move. However, it would appear that as long as you keep the intensity low, i.e. a three on a scale of 1-10, or roughly at 50-60% of your max HR – the more you move, the better!

Results: Compared with metabolic rate in the supine position(laying on your back) (5.4kJ/min kj = kilojules, for all intents and purposes think calories) , energy expenditure increased while sitting motionless by 6%, while fidgeting while seated by 29%, while standing motionless by 8%, while fidgeting while standing by 38%, while walking at 1.6 km/h by 38% (this is SLOW), while walking at 3.2 km/h by 45% (this might seem faster…but it’s still pretty slow at about 2 mph), and while walking at 4.8 km/h (about 3 mph) by 81%.  There was a significant, positive correlation between changes in energy expenditure and body weight for fidgeting-like activities while standing but not while seated.

Source: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/6/1451.full

Take home point, while we can’t all walk at 3 mph for a few hours, we can certainly stand up and fidget for most of the day!!!

This is akin to getting 10,000 steps in per day. However, people took the the 10,000 steps thing and assumed they would lose weight with it.  NOT TRUE!  I found NO STUDIES to support walking 10,000 steps a day causes weight loss in already active and healthy people.

That’s right…zero studies.  The body is a pretty cool piece of machinery.  As energy output goes up, energy utilization will not always follow suit, especially if that energy output rises substantially and is from high-intensity activities.  And this is ESPECIALLY true if you’re in a state of low caloric intake.

However, I came across this gem:

CONCLUSIONS Interrupting sitting time with short bouts of light- or moderate-intensity walking lowers postprandial glucose and insulin levels in overweight/obese adults. This may improve glucose metabolism and potentially be an important public health and clinical intervention strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk.

Source = http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/35/5/976

What does that mean in English?  Well, it’s generally understood and accepted that if we can keep insulin levels low, we can keep fat gain low.  FYI postprandial essentially means after a meal.

Standing is definitely better than sitting…however, the end all is to move often at a low pace…often.

If you want to get into the details, this is a great study you can look at.

Source – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279077/

“The Role of Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis in Human Obesity”

Like what you read?!  We drop knowledge bombs like this all the time to our members!  Don’t take our word for it – come and talk to us to see how we can help you get the body you want and the health you deserve!