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Is Sitting the New Smoking? Plus How To Hack Sitting

By Ryan Munsey

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"Sitting is the new smoking." - Center for Disease Control

It should come as no surprise that posture - the position of our skeletons - has a tremendous impact on musculoskeletal health.

But fewer people are aware that the positions we hold regularly dictate our physiology, our hormones, our mood and our overall health.

You're going to spend time sitting in your life. Here's how to cultivate positions that enhance your health rather than decrease it.

^^ 2 sitting options that enhance health and wellbeing. ^^

"Sitting Is The New Smoking"

We sit an average of 7.7 hours per day, with some sitting up to 15 hours a day.

7.7 hours of sitting per day is more than most people sleep. (This study found the average in the UK to be 6.5 hours a night.)  

It's no wonder the Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls sitting the new smoking.

According to the CDC, chronic diseases are the #1 threat to public health (not infectious disease). And the #1 cause...you guessed it, sedentary lifestyles plagued by chronic sitting

“Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” ~ James Levine, MD, PhD

Think about it, 85% of America’s workforce is paid to sit at a desk all day. We sit in cars, planes and trains to get to those jobs. We sit to eat and we sit to rest after work.

It’s not just the fact THAT we sit, it’s HOW we’re sitting that is really crushing our physiology.

If your puppy died (sorry for the extreme example), you would draw inward with rounded shoulders, tucked chin, rounded upper back, and a disengaged core.

This also describes the position in which most people sit for those 7-15 hours each day at the computer, in transit, and hunched over our smart phones.

Hacking Sitting

As optimizers, we look at everything we do with an eye toward enhancing the upside while attenuating the negative health impacts.

This week's Optimal Performance Podcast with Aaron Alexander from Align Therapy explore several ways we can enhance our physiology, including these tips to biohack sitting.

Here are a four ways we can cultivate health and happiness promoting positions throughout our days while decreasing the amount of time we spend in degenerative positions.

  1. Be mindful of the power of your position. Being aware is the first step to making positive changes. Wear a wristband and "pop" yourself everytime you catch yourself in a poor posture.
  2. Make an effort to accumulate more time spent in beneficial positions. Start at 5 minutes a day, then try to increase the amount of time each day.
  3. "Sit different AND ____". Identify the weak links in your process and address them. If tight glutes are an issue for you, sit different AND incorporate glute activation movements and stretches to correct the imbalance.
  4. Play more - Get up, move throughout the day, and get comfortable exploring new ways to move - dance, act, pretend, it's all related and anything helps.

As Aaron says in this podcast, it's about finding ways to build in more opportunities to enhance our body and physiology.

"You don't DO functional movement - you are a functional mover."

We mold our moods, our physiology, and our health with our posture on a daily basis. Choose wisely.

Listen to the whole podcast here: 

Or watch the video here:

Links & Resources

How do you create opportunities to enhance your mind and body? Keep the conversation going below.

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