Sitting is the New Smoking – Is it true?

Are you someone who works long hours and constantly goes home feeling completely drained, achy, and overall in pain from the long day you just completed? Do you find that no matter how much time you spend in the gym, a day at work and sitting at your desk will make your muscles ache and feel stiff? Well, nowadays, we go about our days sitting all the time, and in earlier studies show that we spend about an average of 7.7 hours sitting all day. This article, we’ll be discussing how sitting is the new smoking but is it really true?

If you relate to any of these scenarios, you just might be spending too much of your time sitting. Whether you’re at home or at the office, you on average spend 9 hours sitting a day! That’s crazy, and what’s worse is that it’s killing us slowly!

We’ve put together some helpful resources so not only can you figure out if you’re sitting too much, but you’ll also find new ways to jumpstart your day in a more healthy way, even at the office!

Are You Sitting Too Much?

The most common symptom you need to pay attention to when you spend your day sitting, the dreadful loss of focus and pressure aches. Have you ever noticed that by around the middle of your work day, after spending the morning sitting down, already had your coffee, you start to feel a pressure headache coming on?

Most people tend to neglect this because they easily equate it to coming off of their morning caffeine high, even though it’s one of the most important symptoms to take note of when you spend too much time sitting down. Not only do these pains in your head make you lose focus constantly, according to Matt McWilliams these headaches from inactivity can even make you have minor memory loss because of feeling so frantic and lost throughout the remainder of your day.

Being stagnate and not exercising your body enough through regular activity and muscle growth can lead to this detrimental loss of focus. A good way to keep active, is looking into a small under table cycling machine, if you’re always at your desk. By altering your schedule to allow for activity and eliminate hours upon hours of sitting, you’ll find that these symptoms will start to diminish. You could easily compare these early symptoms to those smokers experience when their health starts to deteriorate.

A few other ways to discover if you’re sitting too much in one day is to keep a journal with you! Keep a small notepad with you at your desk and a simple timer on your phone so you can track on an average day just how long you spend in your chair. By the end of the day, we can guarantee you’ll be surprised.

Risks of sitting and why its considered the new smoking:

  • Stages Of Atrophy: Atrophy is the body’s way of wasting away. When we are too sedentary, it’s common for our body to start to eat away at our own cells, causing the degeneration of our muscle tissue. This will make your muscles reduce in size, make your skin sag prematurely, and it will also make you very weak, making you more susceptible to disease, sickness, and broken bones. This is very similar to the side effects of smoking, the symptoms that smokers experience long term: their body starts to become weak from the toxins and harsh chemicals eating away at their muscle tissue.
  • Rapid Weight Gain: It might seem obvious, but because the symptoms of sitting are often written off as something else or being caused from other areas of your life, it’s quite common that this specific risk will sneak up on you. If you spend the majority of your days sitting, you’ll find that you’ll start to lose muscle tone because of the atrophy and you’ll also have an easier time when it comes to putting on the weight, even when eating a balanced diet! Weight fluctuation is quite normal throughout life, but this kind of rapid weight gain can put you at risk for a whole list of other weight-related issues. Which goes to show how closely related these two negative addictions can alter a life, smoking or sitting, both are harming individuals in ways that need to be drastically changed for the better. Plus when knowing how easy it is to squeeze in small exercises throughout the day, it’s frustrating to know that weight gain could have been easily prevented.
  • Compression: By sitting all day, you’ll notice that your joints ache, your back is in constant pain, and you constantly feel stiff. These are the warning signs you need to pay attention to because of the risk called compression. Compression happens when your body is in poor health and almost never active, because of this deadly combination, your spine will start to weaken, which will compress the discs in your spine, not only making it nearly impossible to have correct posture when it gets to this point, but it will be extremely painful to do everyday things you might be used to.
  • Stress, Anxiety, & Depression: Mental health is just as important as physical health. When your physical health is poor, it’s only natural for this to lead to excess stress, anxiety, and depression. When it gets to this point, generally it creates a whole series of unfortunate events in the wake of this destructive cycle. You’ll start to see a lack of motivation, constantly feeling tired, unstable emotions, and a continued path of poor health. Not to mention your work that you spend all that time sitting for will suffer as well.
  • Diabetes & Heart Disease: These two major risks have been linked to sitting for years now and it’s time for that to change. Just as it’s a risk for smoking, diabetes, and heart disease have been a plague that has haunted those who don’t take action to change their lives. On average if you spend the majority of your day sitting at home or at the office, you’ll have doubled your chances of being diagnosed with diabetes and/or heart disease. Sitting has also been proven to link to insulin resistance which will lead to diabetes.

Read our 40 health benefits of having a stand up desk, and why we think its a good idea for you to try change your lifestyle.

How to change your sitting habits:

  • Move Everything: If you HAVE to sit all day during work and there is no way to get out of that habit, move everything. Whether it’s just shifting in your seat, moving your fingers against the desk, or moving your legs in different positions, every little thing helps. Even something as simple as tensing your muscles and releasing it after 20 seconds will help keep your body active while you’re sitting at your desk. Even if you just take a walk around the office, anything is better than nothing.
  • Talk To Your Boss: If you constantly sit at your job for hours on end, bring up some ideas with your boss. There are tons of things you could mention: standing meetings, walking to go get lunch with a group of coworkers, having routine walks that people can opt-in on. Not only will you be able to provide solid facts that this will help you focus and increase productivity, but you might also even be able to convince your boss to get active too!
  • Standing Desk: For your office at home or at work, opting for a standing desk when you can, even if it’s just the added attachment on a standard desk, will help keep the blood flowing and will give you more energy throughout the day without sacrificing any pain or time. There are tons of ways you can keep moving while you work with a standing desk, you’ll be able to easily pace or walk in place, and it’s proven that your posture will dramatically increase.


I hope this article was informative and why sitting is the new smoking. When it comes to choosing a more active lifestyle that takes more time and allows you to live your life longer or sitting and wasting away, there isn’t much of a choice. Change your lifestyle and upgrade those bad sitting habits for something revitalizing and fresh, it’s important that you do everything you can to better your health. It’s constantly becoming more challenging to add exercise and movement into our daily lives because of our careers and obligations, but little by little, these changes can be the difference between a long and healthy life or the risks we don’t even want to mention again. While it might sound extreme, it’s a truth we can no longer afford to ignore.

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Desk Advisor

Desk Advisor

Our team covers many categories to help you hustle better, from ergonomics to productivity, and technology. We are willing to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards the healthy workspace. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture but also how we deliver information to our readers. Ergonomic and productivity research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you work better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better hustle.

Desk Advisor
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