HABIT CHANGE #2: The “New Smoking”

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Today we’re going to dive into Habit #2, the “New Smoking” – which I bet you’re doing this very minute.


We’ve all have heard that smoking is the top factor in causing preventable deaths. So, what could you possibly be doing right now that would have experts equating it to the harmful effects of smoking?

The answer is what you’re regularly doing in that office chair, on your couch, on the subway, in your car, and in the plane. It’s Sitting.

Sitting is the called the New Smoking because how much you sit every day is actually putting you closer to your death. 

You may be hearing in the media and various articles that we should stand more and sit less, but most of these sources are not sharing how crucial and critical it is for us to reduce how much we sit every day.

Experts are finding that there is a direct relationship between the time you spend sitting and your all-cause death rate, independent of your level of physical activity.

Your mortality rate is directly correlated to how much you are sitting versus not sitting, regardless of whether you’re hitting the gym after work.


These findings should make you upset as you’ve been led to believe that it’s okay to spend all day hunched over at your computer and then go do some crazy 30 to 60-minute exercise to make up for your sedentary day, but this is simply not true. 

HOW BAD IS SITTING FOR YOU, REALLY?


We are encouraged by doctors / media / your significant other to participate in some level of exercise for our heart health; however, what we really need to be concerned with is how we are treating our body the other 11 to 15 hours a day when we’re not sleeping, eating, or exercising.

A study done by the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that women sitting for 6+ hours a day are 40% more likely to die from a chronic disease than those that sit less than 3 hours a day. 

A separate study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine of 220,000 adults confirmed those findings and additionally concluded that men and women who regularly sit for 11+ hours are 40% more likely to die within 3 years

Both of these studies proved there is a direct relationship between the hours you sit and your all-cause mortality. This correlation was consistent across gender, age group, weight, and levels of physical activity.  

ARE YOU GUILTY OF SITTING ALMOST 11 HOURS A DAY? 

If 11 hours of sitting sounds too long and unlikely for you, let’s do a quick self-check together:

1. YOUR COMMUTE:

How long is your work commute? And are you sitting in a car, a train or a bus? Don’t forget to multiply by two, to account for your morning and evening commutes. 

2. YOUR MEETINGS & DESK DWELLING:

How many hours a day do you spend sitting at your desk, in meetings, or in conferences?

3. MEAL TIME:

Assuming you sit while eating, add another 2 – 3 hours there too. 

4. LEISURE TIME:

When you get home, do you head for the couch or your office den? 

5. MISCELLANEOUS:

Don’t forget to add on the time spent sitting in Ubers, on planes, in airport lounges, in your hotel room or hotel restaurant/bar. 

WHAT’S YOUR DAILY SITTING TOTAL?       

As you can see, sitting for 6 to 11+ hours a day can happen pretty easily.

So now that you know how harmful sitting really is, what can you do to reduce your risk of death related to sitting?



Well, the obvious answer is stand more. But, the hard part is figuring out how to stand when you’re needing to be in meetings or at your computer. 

Here are a few tips from my Healthy Habits Tracker to get you out of that chair and standing more:

BE A HABIT SHIFTER IN 1-2-3:

1. Create a standing desk.

Standing desks do not need to be this elaborate piece of furniture – there are plenty of ways to modify your existing workspace into a healthier one without breaking the bank. Honestly, it can be as simple as putting your laptop on a pile of books or a box. Here’s our favorite under $50 adjustable laptop stand to put on your desk, as well as these freestanding versions.

2. Incorporate standing meetings whenever possible.

Studies show that standing and adding movement actually stimulates your brain, increasing productivity and creativity. So why not get more out of your team meeting by standing, instead of sitting?

3. Change your chair. 

If standing at your desk isn’t quite as feasible for you in your job, then changing out your desk chair might be a better option for you. You can get some of the benefits of standing from ergonomic seats that stimulate your core and back muscles. A couple of our favorite seating options are the modern ball chair and this wobble stool

I hope this deep dive into the “New smoking” has emboldened you to look for ways you can start standing more every day. You now know that this isn’t about getting a standing desk because it’s become “hip and cool,” but is really about the urgency needed to change to your sitting habits now.

Don’t become part of that 40% statistic, dying of a chronic disease within 3 years because you sat too much.

These tips and resources are to get you thinking about how you can incorporate standing more, whether at work, home, during your commute and beyond.

Share in the comments what you’re going to start doing to get up and out of that chair more often.

I created this Healthy Habits 7-part series so you can get a glimpse into how you truly can be healthy & fit, even with your crazy work schedule. 

Being healthier really isn’t as hard or as time-consuming as we’ve been led to believe, you just need someone to show you the How. We believe that simple yet powerful lifestyle micro-changes can make all the difference to your health. This is the mission behind all of our programs at One Degree Health.

Next up in Habit #3I reveal some common foods at restaurants that are actually “healthy” fakes. You’re probably ordering them regularly because you believe they’re good for you, yet you’ll be shocked to learn that they’re quite the contrary. See you over in Habit Change #3, the “Healthy Fakes.”

Track this new habit:

Check off this habit in your Healthy Habits Tracker (download yours for free here).

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Danielle Atcheson, NBC-HWC, CHN, LMC, CGP

Danielle Atcheson, NBC-HWC, CHN, LMC, CGP

Danielle Atcheson is on a mission to inspire healthier living using the power of micro-habits.

She’s a popular speaker, a board-certified health & wellness coach, and founder of One Degree Health.

As a former Fortune 500 executive, she knows firsthand how a busy schedule can interfere with prioritizing our health.

Danielle started One Degree Health to share her Micro-Habit Mindset and wellness formula with other busy professionals through engaging workshops, online coaching & nutrition programs, and private coaching.

Founder & Chief Wellness Officer, One Degree Health; Functional Nutritionist, Lifestyle Medicine Specialist, Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Gluten-Free Practitioner, Plant-Based Nutrition certified from Cornell University.

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