Sitting is the New Smoking

I know what you’re thinking. Here he goes again with the dramatic titles! But once you get a look at the facts about how badly sitting can impact our health, you may accuse me of being too subtle!

For starters, consider how we burn one calorie per minute while seated, which is a mere one-third of what we’d burn if we were walking.

Most of our patients at Oak Point Health & Vitality Centre have desk jobs and that is precisely why I want to dive right into this subject and give you immediate solutions for sitting-related issues (and no, quitting your job is not on the list).

Let’s begin by having a look at what sitting does to our bodies:

  • Decreases heart rate
  • Decreases joint and muscle range of motion
  • Decreases the effectiveness of insulin
  • Decreases metabolic function
  • Increases fat in the blood stream
  • Increases risk of chronic diseases (e.g. cancer and type 2 diabetes)
  • Increases pressure on the spine

Still think my title was too dramatic? I could go on but I don’t want to send my readers into full-blown depression.

So, you might wonder, is standing the solution? Well, not exactly, as standing for long periods of time may result in:

  • Knee, ankle, and foot pain
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Vein damage
  • Low back issues
  • (and much more)

So, if both too much sitting and too much standing aren’t good for us, what’s left? 

Answer: Posture breaks.

It’s basic stuff. Every 30 minutes (or less), simply lean back in your chair and stretch to open up your chest while reaching your arms back. Better yet, stand up and stretch for at least 20 seconds.

It’s essential you this do no less than every 30 minutes because our spine can withhold pressure for up to 20 minutes. Even for those sitting with ideal posture, the pressure transfers to your discs after that.

When I have to sit for long periods of time in front of a computer (like right now!) I put a reminder on my phone or Mac and stretch when the timer goes off. But, to maximize this stretch break, it helps to know as much as possible about what positions to try and how the body will respond.

That’s where Oak Point comes in. Our practitioners are highly trained in evaluating posture and can thus recommend specific exercises and stretches that suit your body best. 


Written by Dimitri Boules LAc, LMT, CPE, CPT