Why Harvard is Calling Sitting the Smoking of Our Generation

Photo: Stanley Dutton

I’m not writing this post to drill you or hate on sitting or relaxing. I’m a believer that relaxing is important too BUT the focus of this post, is why we sit too much, research on how it effects us and simple ways to include more movement.

If this was back in the day- we wouldn’t have to go to the gym or take breaks to make sure we walk at work because we would be using up enough energy to catch and hunt our food. We would use enough energy to find water or to locate our families; however, these days, that is of course- not the case!

We have A TON to be thankful for- we have made a zillion advances in health care, in astronomy, in engineering- the list goes on. With all of our advances; however, we have made our lives very easy [lets be honest]. We walk two steps and there’s probably a vending machine around the corner. We drive a bit, and we have fast food everywhere. We can accomplish SO much work – just from merely turning on a computer. While it’s great for mankind, it also means we have to WORK to include movement in our day.

Some of us are lucky and movement is included in our jobs but a lot of us have 9 to 5 desk jobs and our bodies. are. not. designed. for. that. Our bodies are designed to move. The best kind of movement – is the kind you enjoy.

Lets go through some research on tips on how to easily include more movement.


  • We’re averaging 9.3 hours a day, compared to 7.7 hours of SLEEPING. Yes, we are sitting more than we’re sleeping.
  • After 1 hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90%
  • Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism affecting things like (good cholesterol) HDL levels in our bodies.
  • Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly tied to 6% of the impact for heart diseases, 7% for type 2 diabetes, and 10% for breast cancer, or colon cancer.
  • You might already know that the death rate associated with obesity in the US is now 35 million But do you know what it is in relationship to Tobacco? 3.5 million.
  • Moving the body throughout the day is crucial to the maintenance of metabolic and musculoskeletal health and mental well-being
  • Researchers feel that future generations will look back at our sedentary work place practices the same way we now view smoking
  • Women who were inactive for 11 or more hours a day fared the worst, facing a 12% increase in premature death
  • It is not enough to work out an hour a day- that DOES NOT make up for 6-8hrs of sitting daily per Harvard Health + Mayo Clinic. Continuous movement is key.

what you can do to increase movement

  • purposely park further from work, grocery store, etc (I do this!)
  • take more water breaks and instead of sitting while you drink- STAND and WALK (just for 2-3 minutes)
  • download the free app “Stand Up”. It reminds you to stand up every so often. You set how often you want it go off and the hours of the day you want it on. I do every 30min from 8am-5pm.
  • try a standing desk- we have one at home!
  • take the stairs
  • use the restroom above or below your floor at work
  • do jumping jacks on commercials while you watch TV or do chores around the house
  • walk while you talk on the phone
  • take the scenic/longer route when you can!

Get up and get movin!!!

-The Neilan Family-


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