Sitting Is "The New Smoking"

“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” ~Martha Grogan, Cardiologist (1). Just because you’re on the couch eating kale chips instead of Cheetos doesn’t mean that you’re still going to be pain-free. Why? Being on the couch usually requires sitting, and sitting is the new smoking (a phrase coined by Kelly Starrett, who wrote the book Death by Desk).

If you’ve started drinking more high-quality water and changed the foods you eat to ones that are more nutritious and have more fiber but you’re still hurting? There are many reasons why this could be the case but I know one thing: the more I limit the time I spend sitting (and driving) the more flexible I feel and less pain I have throughout the day.

Sitting causes so many adverse health effects. For the sake of time, I want to only talk about how it negatively affects your spine, causing back and neck pain. When you sit you’re putting pressure on the intervertebral discs of your spine, especially those of your lower back and neck/thoracic vertebrae. This is not good over long periods of time. There are healthier ways of sitting so that you don’t do as much damage to your spine. However, prolonged sitting is still detrimental to the health of your precious spine.

Back pain is bad enough while standing...but when you sit...It’s excruciating! Why? Because, humans weren’t designed to sit, we were designed to squat, stand, walk, and move. To conquer your back pain you must cease sitting! That is the first and most important step. It is destroying your hips! When your hips are tight and in the wrong position, guess what happens? Your spine is in the wrong position! Now you have a recipe for pain, which isn’t a dish you want to be served at any age.

So, what should you do Instead? Stand more. Sit less. Limit the amount of time you spend sitting! Stand up and walk around every half hour to get the lymphatic system flowing and get your blood moving. Stretch, move, and get away from the desk! At least do so once every half hour or when you start to feel pain.

There are other options besides a normal desk. You could also get a standing desk…yes there is such a thing. I didn’t invent them…I say that as I stand at a Starbucks and write this like a weirdo, but at least this weirdo isn’t in pain! It could mean the difference between participating in your grandchildren’s activities or just watching them do the activities. The less you move now the less you’ll be able to move in the future. You know you want to feel, get off your ass, literally!

Listed below are just a fraction of the problems sitting causes (2):

  1. Low back pain

  2. Puts unwanted pressure on your spine causing spinal injuries (from disc damage)

  3. Bad posture

  4. Slow lymphatic and blood flow

  5. It shortens your lifespan

  6. Tightens hips

  7. Shuts off your glutes

  8. Stiffens your joints

  9. Increases your risk of disease and illness

  10. Headaches

  11. Increases your chances of shoulder problems

  12. Low energy expenditure.

  13. Slower metabolism.

  14. Compromised posture.

  15. Back and spine injuries.

  16. Metabolism slows down.

  17. Chronic Pain.

  18. TMJ

What in the world should you do instead of sit? It sounds easier than it is, but our cars, schools, workspaces, and homes (couches and chairs) are all designed around sitting...Here are your only 2 options: STAND, or lay down. There is no way around it. There are a plethora of things you can do while sitting to mitigate the “damage”, but when it comes down to it, the best thing we can do for our bodies is to avoid it altogether- which isn’t possible so we must lessen the time we spend on our asses...literally. Life is just less of pain the less we sit.

Stand while you do work and lay down while you watch tv, read, or scroll through your news feed, send texts, or swipe right on Tinder ;) Invest in a standing desk and do your work from there and eat standing up.

There are so many cool Pinterest ideas on how to make one really for cheap if you can’t buy one. If you are just too lazy to make one or buy one then you must get one because all that sitting is making you lazy! I’m telling you it destroys your joints, breathing, and energy levels as bad as junk food (that’s a subject for another day). But, listen, I understand that sometimes you’re not in the mood to do anything least do yourself a favor and stand up every 20 minutes or so to avoid muscle wasting and lymphatic pooling.

What other benefits can standing do for you? If destroying your body doesn’t motivate you to get (or make) a standing desk then how about the fact that standing will make your body look better, how? Check out what they said in the Harvard Medical School about standing vs. sitting: “Fear of an early death doesn’t usually motivate people to change their habits, but losing weight might be an incentive. You burn 30% more calories when you’re standing than when you’re sitting. It’s not a huge amount, but it adds up over time and contributes to weight control, says Dr. Lee” (3).

Sitting causes ugliness. On top of that sitting makes your posture suck. A hunchback ain’t sexy. You’ve seen it, the people who slouch so much you are worried their heads will fall off their bodies. Did you once think, “OMG, I want them bad!” Nope. Neither did anyone else.

Once you’ve reduced your sitting time the next step is to STRETCH those tight hips of yours using stretches for SPECIFIC muscles that will reduce your low back pain or sciatica symptoms. A hurting back is a direct result of tight hips, poor spinal mechanics, and a deteriorating spine. So, we must stretch your hips out because they are attached to your spine. Sit less, stand more and stretch, and I promise your pain will slowly lessen because you’re not stiffening your hips and putting unwanted unnatural pressure on your spine.

In conclusion, sit less, stand more and stretch often.



  1. Corliss, J. (2015, January 22). Too much sitting linked to heart disease, diabetes, premature death.

  2. Lis, A. M., Black, K. M., Korn, H., & Nordin, M. (2007, February). Association between sitting and occupational LBP.

  3. Dunstan, D. W., Kingwell, B. A., Larsen, R., Healy, G. N., Cerin, E., Hamilton, M. T., Owen, N. (2012, May). Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting Reduces Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses.