Yikes, ‘Sitting is the new smoking’

Don’t try this at work. (YouTube)

You’d better stand up to take in this news, because sitting is bad for you. Putting your posterior in a chair is now added to the growing list of indulgences – drinking a droplet of malt scotch, eating a potato chip, driving a car instead of walking – that can kill you or worse.

Indeed, in an era in which fussbudget moral overseers scrutinize every step we (don’t) take, indulging in these activities is viewed as a venal sin. Or maybe a mortal one, for the Mayo Clinic now warns us that “prolonged periods of sitting also seem to increase the risk of death.” (A clinic doc reportedly coined the phrase you will soon be hearing too often – “Sitting is the new smoking”.)

A recent story in The Guardian picks up on the same theme, noting that “even the sporty Dutch are falling victim to ‘chair-use disorder’”.  The British newspaper cites a study which shows excessive sitting causes 21,000 premature deaths a year in the Netherlands from diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. It even tracks down one cardiologist who calls “excessive chair use an addiction.”

No more isolating in place, then – especially if that place is a seat. The Mayo Clinic does suggest some remedies for indolence – frequent walkabouts when you’re working, watching TV or web-surfing; standing while you talk on the phone; and walking to meetings. Heck, the Clinic says you might even position your workstation above a treadmill.

Sorry, but the treadmill workstation is a step too far for those of keeping watch from the CrowsNest.  We’re all for moderation and other healthful traits, but like all mariners, we also welcome those rare moments of fair wind and weather when we can sit in a circle on the deck and tell each other lies. And, yes, you can take a sip of demon rum in our company without being forced to walk the plank.  We live in close quarters, after all, and allowing for each other’s weaknesses is not merely a necessary thing. It’s also a healthy one.