Is sitting the new smoking?

General Health



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We have long known that leading a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for many common illnesses that afflict us as we age. However, recent studies have shown that the risks of sitting all day have a profound affect on our health, even if we take regular exercise.

Most people would assume that if they are getting to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, then they are leading a healthy lifestyle. However, this is not necessarily the case. New research suggests that regular exercise alone is not enough to protect against illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and even cancer.

It is a common misconception that, by exercising, a person is leading an active lifestyle. Whether or not you are active or sedentary is in fact down to the amount of time spent on your feet, not the amount of exercise done. If someone exercises every day, but spends the rest of the day sitting at their desk or on the sofa, they are still at risk of certain chronic illnesses as well as a raised risk of all-cause mortality.

In a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers from the University of Missouri looked at past studies into the number of steps people took each day. They found that people taking fewer than 5,000 steps per day were much more likely to develop chronic health conditions. Those who took more than 10,000 steps per day were at a much lower risk.

There are simple changes that can be made to increase our daily steps, whether at home or at work:

  • Swapping one journey a day from car to foot.
  • Getting up from our desks regularly at work and walking around the office.
  • Standing to take a phone call.
  • Going over to speak to colleagues rather than sending them an email.
  • Taking a walk during our lunch break.
  • Taking evening walks.
  • Getting a pedometer and making sure we do those 10,000 steps.

If you are concerned about your risk of type 2 diabetes, then take our Diabetes Quick Check, now only £29.

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