Is sitting the new smoking?

Mass Appeal

(Mass Appeal) – It’s a common phrase now….sitting is the new smoking. But here’s the thing – there is truth to that. Dr. Christopher Keroack, Medical Director with the New England Center for Functional Medicine is with me to talk about how your chair – or your couch – may be hurting you.

In 2012-2016 there was a lot of press coverage about the dangers of sitting and comparing it to smoking as a risk factor. James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic is the one who is credited with this phrase. And the concepts are still going on today.

What is being neglected in the reports is the subtle aspects of what the research really shows.

So in support of sitting is dangerous is:

1) Chronic sitting leads to low levels of inflammation which are dangerous to the body
2) Chronic sitting CAN lead to added weight and fat which increases this inflammation
3) Chronic sitting CAN be related to lack of muscle use/movement and muscle movement assists with anti-inflammatory chemicals

However…part 2… the type of sitting, the length of time sitting and the myth of the athletic aboriginal human / prehistoric human complicates the issue

This area of data was explored mostly by Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology who studies hunter gather societies. His finding, in addition to others, reveal a bit more of the science related to the dangers of sitting.

1) LEISURE TIME sitting is harmful… so if your job is sitting and you sit in a car and you sit to watch TV… then there are higher risks
2) SITTING is not BAD… hunter-gather societies sit for 10 hours a day… so how you sit is more important
3) STYLE and TIME of sitting. Muscle use…even micro muscle use helps… so getting up, moving in your chair, using “stability” chairs…all of this leads to “active” sitting rather than “passive” sitting which helps decrease inflammation by activating muscle tissue

I think that if you sit at your job, it is not as bad as we thought…but sitting ALL the time might be as bad as we thought.

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