Sitting is the new smoking is a catchphrase that has led to a misguided war on seats. Too much sitting is not the problem, but rather, lack of movement is the problem. We’ve become a society of leisure-based, labour-saving technological slugs, and it’s killing us. Metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity are all on the rise.
A recent documentary entitled Cholesterol: The Great Bluff also tackled the topic: in it, cardiologist Dr. Mikael Rabaeus proclaims,
“Yet again, it’s a sedentary lifestyle that’s the killer.”
And according to the World Health Organization,
“Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally.”
Do you remember the 2008 animated movie Wall-E? The humans had outsourced movement to machines and, in essence, had outsourced their muscles’ main function.
So, what is the solution? Making a commitment to move more every day. The World Health Organization defines physical activity as,
“any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.”
That means moving your body – not sweating, not buying special clothing or equipment or expensive gym memberships. Just moving.
Smokers move more than non-smokers, especially at work. Isn’t it ironic that while they’re destroying their lungs, they’re actually getting more physical activity than their non-smoking colleagues? Think about it: it’s socially acceptable to go for a smoke break at work. And because of indoor workplace no-smoking laws, they have to leave the building to do so. Less socially acceptable is leaving your desk to ‘talk a walk’.
But here’s the kicker: movement is not optional. A sedentary lifestyle leads to premature aging and death. We NEED to move more throughout the day. So I came up with an acronym and a new way to think about “SMOKE breaks” at work:
Tell your boss you’re taking a healthy “SMOKE” break for your body and your mind. And then get up from your desk and move. Go for a walk, stretch your arms up to the sky, twist and turn as you reenergize yourself head to toe. But please refrain from smoking during your “SMOKE” break!