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…he says, with that teenage look in his eyes which says ‘mum, you know nothing’.  My son thinks I make things up (or he wishes, especially when I’m telling him my views on things like Dr Pepper and Lucozade).  So when a discussion sparked up round the dinner table about the perils of sitting down for hours each day he just wasn’t convinced.

It does sound ludicrous though doesn’t it?  How can something as seemingly harmless and passive as sitting down be as damaging as smoking?  Smoking smells bad, it gives off something visual, you can feel the bad effects as you breathe it in.  It’s just so…obvious it’s bad for you and everyone around you.  For once I can understand my son’s incredulity.

It also sounds worrying though.  I gave up smoking years ago.  I eat tons of vegetables each day, and most of them are organic.  I drink lots of water.  I get outside.  I walk.  I do yoga.  I’m healthy, right?  Well yes, but I also spend much of my day sitting, either at a computer, in a consultation or meeting, or sometimes even watching TV.  I’m sitting right now with my laptop on my knees.  And I’ve been doing it for years.

The research is linking sitting with an increased risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  It can’t prove that sitting causes these things, but in the research subjects the ones who sit the longest have higher incidence of these frightening lifestyle diseases.  But that’s not the primary reason the detrimental effects of sitting are being likened to the detrimental effects of smoking.  The problem is that once the effects start to accumulate they can’t be reversed.  Smoke 20 a day for 20 years and you will start to knacker your lungs.  It’s true that if you then stop smoking you are no longer adding to that state of knackered-ness, but even if you then take up exercise and healthy eating you can’t undo the damage that’s been done.  And it’s the same with sitting they say.  No amount of exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits will negate the damage done by a lifetime of sitting.

Bugger!  So why am I eating tons of vegetables (mostly organic), topping up my vitamin D, doing yoga, drinking water etc etc?  Sounds like I’m already on the path to cancer, diabetes and heart disease!

That’s the trouble with taking these research findings in isolation.  Yes I sit too much, but I’m making an effort to get up and move around much more than I used to.  And I firmly believe that there is a whole picture here, and doing the ‘right things’ to be healthy most of time has to be a good thing.  I take this knowledge and I use it to my advantage as much as I can.  For example, I’ve started laying on the sofa to watch TV 😉

And I will never stop telling my teenage son that sitting in front of his computer all day is bad for him.  He already has many chimp-like traits, and this picture says it all!