Is Sitting the New Smoking?

uplift-treadmill-desk-reviewSome time ago I wrote a blog post which encouraged mixing exercise with work to encourage both health and productivity

Walking Talking and Emailing Around

After that was published I was asked why would a business consultant be concerned with their clients’ health and fitness.

My answer is two-fold

I have a background in working with elite international athletes…so I know a bit about it …. but more importantly unlike the medical profession my clients are of no value to me when they are sick …and can’t pay their bills.

With this in mind a recent headline in the newspaper screamed out at me for attention “Sitting is the New Smoking”.  A lot of common sense and a bit of research had me convinced that whilst the headline was over the top there is a real issue here that we need to deal with.

For more background check out this article from Harvard Business Review, where Nilofer Merchant points out that …

As we work, we sit more than we do anything else. We’re averaging 9.3 hours a day, compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping. Sitting is so prevalent and so pervasive that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And, everyone else is doing it also, so it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not okay. In that way, I’ve come to see that sitting is the smoking of our generation.

So having been an avid anti smoker, who in general chooses not to do business with people who are serious smokers, I suddenly had a new cause, one that makes heaps of sense.

Most of us spend way too much time sitting when our bodies were designed to be active… Hence excess weight, sore backs etc are ever-increasing issues to sedentary man, woman and child.

So if we recognise that too much sitting is clearly not good for us what can we do?

Well for a start get off you bum and take a short walk around the office or down the street every hour that will make a big difference.  And to help you keep track of your increased activity levels get yourself a FitBit ….as the marketing says ……..


This slim, stylish device is with you all the time.During the day, it tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night it tracks your sleep quality and wakes you silently in the morning. Just check out the lights to see how you stack up against your personal goal,. It’s the motivation you need to get out and be more active.

But there is more you can do in the office to enhance health and productivity and avoid the tendency to sit and not necessarily sit well either.

I have seen radical ideas being introduced to combat the sitting malaise – like desks with treadmills attached so you can walk while you work.

But I like simpler, more practical and cost-effective ideas like stand up meetings.  In our wonderful co-working office  at That Space we have the perfect table for such meetings ….in fact I am typing this blog at it right now as you will see from the picture below.


Stand up meetings are good for you in many ways not just for your health … How many times have you sat back, relaxed and switched off in a meeting that was rambling on for way too long.

Now with everyone standing the focus will be on effective and efficient meetings so that we can all move on as nobody is really comfortable when standing for too long….but at least it is good for you!!

If you don’;t have a stand up meeting table then perhaps insist everyone stands for a few minutes after half an hour or so …or even suggest if it’s a nice day outside you all go for a walk around the block while you continue the discussions.

It’s remarkable how much more focussed and effective you will be when you are no longer sedentary.

Give it ago your body will appreciate it and your mind will probably relish it too.  You never-never know as they say.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s