We do love to exaggerate, don’t we? Individuals brag about their achievements and career highs and I think maybe they have started applying the same to other situations as well-their children’s accomplishments, health-related problems and more. Health is an extremely sensitive topic that needs a crisp detailing and ‘to the dot’ diagnosis. No false hypes or hopes. But the prevalence of media and other social sites have made it customary to blow up things to increase TRP and make it sensational among public. Who says that sitting is as bad as smoking? Then, either the individual doesn’t know much about smoking or is totally unaware of the effects of sitting!
Sitting & Smoking: The Unbalanced Equation
Research shows that smoking increases the risk of premature death by 180% while excessive sitting increases risk of premature death and chronic disease by 10-20%. Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by more than 1000%. On no given day can we equate the side effects of sitting with smoking. On the other side, we cannot deny that sitting is not bad for health and wellness. We do have research studies showing that sitting can have disastrous effects on our health despite our daily accomplishment of the day’s required exercise duration. This is really intriguing given the fact the regular physical activity improves well-being. Claims also exist that sitting negates the goodness of the activity performed during the day.
Actually we spend half our lives sitting down (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/15/is-sitting-down-bad-for-my-health) and this is no exaggeration-we get up in the morning and complete our chores, sit down to read newspaper, eat our breakfast and then leave to office/school; we again sit down in our bike/car/bus/train while travelling to work/school; we reach our seat and once again sit down to work (if it is a desk job and its one for most of us); we might get up for water, talk to our colleague or go to meetings and again sit down for lunch in between; we get back to our seats to work again and call it a day finally in the evening; we sit again while travelling back home; we reach home and relax ourselves in the sofa watching television or meddling with smartphones; we sit down for dinner and finally go to sleep. Now maybe we all do agree upon the number of hours spent sitting!
With the advent of numerous articles scaring us on the ill effects of sitting we are now bombarded with solutions for the same-standing desks, walking meetings, exercise coupled with television sessions and so on. Standing desks have become a popular ‘asset’ to companies and many employees feel good about this change. Alas, we now have a new research showing that standing desks are not good for our health as they are associated with long-term risks of standing continuously. Walking meetings have received a warm welcome from employees as they feel refreshed, active and fresh after taking a quick walk in the lush greenery and a whiff of fresh air blowing over their face. Individuals have started to take their calls while walking up and down the hallway and television has become a medium for exercise sessions for many. Avoiding sitting while watching television is extremely important or avoiding television altogether is better as there have been theories regarding an increased risk of diabetes due to prolonged hours of watching television. Its even been warned that adults who watch as much as 6 hours of television daily is expected to live 4.8 years less than someone who does not watch television.
Awaken from the Dream
Despite innumerous researches supporting the ill effects of sitting we have a heart-warming research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that’s sure to raise your positive spirits. According to the study, sitting in your office desk is not as bad as sitting down and watching television during your free time. Leisure-time sitting causes debilitating effects compared to sitting while working. The researchers found that sitting at work was always not related to an increased risk of death and heart disease. Whereas, watching television for more than 4 hours daily increased the risk of heart disease and death by almost 50% compared to those who watched less than two hours daily.
We also have statistics that show that people with a desk job are most likely to exercise outside their job timings, have a higher educational qualification, earn better income and hence, eat healthier foods and avoid much smoking and drinking. Engaging yourself in television when you are free is not so bad when you get your share of 150 minutes of activity every week. But viewing television comes with its own set of disadvantages. It inspires you to snack, binge-watch your favorite series late nights thereby disrupting sleep routines (which are linked to cardiovascular diseases) and overeat. Also, while sitting in front of a television you never bother to get up unless you need to make a visit to the bathroom. But while sitting at your office desk you take time to get up and drink water, have a conversation with a colleague over some issue or walk while speaking over phone with someone. Anything that disrupts sedentary time is good for heart health.
Keep sedentary time as minimal as possible, go for short walks or small bouts of exercise whenever possible and minimalize television time to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Sitting Might Not be So Bad After All! https://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/21/health/sitting-study-partner/index.html
Sitting at Work Study: https://time.com/5613814/sitting-at-work-study/
Sitting for long periods is bad for your health: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-19910888
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.