A few of my friends are web developers and designers. Most of them clock in between 40 and 50 hours a week and complain about different health problems. This isn’t because they smoke, drink heavily, or have chronic or genetic conditions. It is because they sit down. A lot.
I’ve decided to see whether leading a sedentary lifestyle can have the same negative health effect on your body smoking does. I’ve tried to look at the info regarding deaths by smoking and sitting down without engaging in recreation and this is what I’ve found.
The Effect of Sitting Down
You would think that sitting down for a longer period of time would not have any adverse effects on your health, seeing as how you are not doing anything physically demanding. While doing work that requires you to sit down might not be as dangerous as, say, climbing poles to install electricity or cable, it can still be exhausting and uncomfortable.
Sitting for a long time ruins your posture, which, in turn, has some bad news for your back as you get older. Your hip joints will also not be able to move to their fullest potential. You could even develop metabolic syndrome, a condition where you experience elevated blood pressure, get fatter from a slowdown in your metabolism and not spending energy, and misbalance the inner workings of your body to an extent that could lead to diabetes and heart problems.
While exercising is needed to counter some of these negative effects, the average number of workout sessions per week is not enough to make the cut. Even if you stretch and do a few crunches and pushups, it just doesn’t work if you don’t do it intensely and on a regular basis. I mentioned a slowdown in your metabolism. That also affects the performance you can expect from exercise. So, either exercise more or find a way to not spend so much time sitting down.
Smoking causes a number of diseases and medical conditions, including lung diseases, heart diseases, stroke, infertility, and cancer in numerous places in your body. It also hinders your body in a way that makes it free real-estate for diseases you could normally fight off. Because of the negative effects of the two, the sedentary lifestyle has been compared by many to smoking.
Is It True, Then?
Here’s the thing: sitting down isn’t, nor will it ever be, as bad as smoking. The sheer number of bad and even irreversible medical conditions that come from using tobacco is overwhelming compared to what you might experience if you are sitting down for too many hours in a day.
This isn’t to say that leading a sedentary lifestyle is good. Far from it. However, the problematic conditions that arise from sitting down for prolonged periods of time are, for the most part, treatable. Furthermore, the American Journal of Public Health states that sitting down for more than 8 hours a day can increase the risk of premature death by 20%, but smokers have a 1000% increase in the risk of getting lung cancer. The numbers don’t lie.
The Worst of Both Worlds
I feel like I should mention something that might seem obvious, but is often overlooked. We’ve already established that, while both of these are bad, smoking is far worse. However, the absolute worst thing you could do is combine the two. Smoking with a sedentary lifestyle is close to asking for it. If you have to do one, please do away with the other.