If Sitting is the New Smoking, Are We Sitting Ourselves to Death?



Chronic sitting is especially bad for anyone who has osteoarthritis – as I do. But it’s also tied to strokes and type 2 diabetes.

  • Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University, who coined the term, believes we are sitting ourselves to death!
  • Columbia University Medical Center also just released a major study of 8,000 people in which they found that Americans spent 77% of their waking hours sitting and being inactive.

The experts all recommend that we get up every 30 minutes for a quick walk-around. I had no idea how difficult it would be to incorporate movement breaks into my routine – especially when I’m engrossed in what I’m doing.

But getting up and moving around even once an hour, makes me feel so much better. My joints feel less creaky, there’s less stiffness and definitely less pain.

Here are some specific things I’m doing to add more movement breaks to my daily routine:

  • At Ludlow House where I work 3 days a week, I now get up every 30 minutes and take a quick walk up/down the stairs
  • Never take elevators for less than 5 floors
  • Walk or bike instead of taking taxis
  • I also live on the 3rd floor of a walk-up and I’m up and down those stairs at least 4 times a day

I’ve seen more people adopt standing desks for this very reason but orthopedists and chiropractors are finding being sedentary at a stand-up desk is no better than being sedentary while sitting. Problems that arose from sitting are now moving to other parts of the body

Read on below for an arthritis update including some very alarming info (if correct) that shows that the vast majority of patients see no real improvement in quality of life after knee replacement surgery.

Arthritis (Source: currentargus.com)

  • More than 50 million adults in the U.S. have some form of arthritis
  • It is most common among women, and occurs more frequently as people age
  • It’s the leading cause of disability in the nation
  • The most common type is osteoarthritis (which is what I have)
  • Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of cartilage, the soft tissue located between the joint
  • Since osteoarthritis in incurable and degenerative, a patient’s commitment to self-management is critical and must include daily exercise (e.g. stretches before bed and before you get up in the morning – crucial!!).


Americans have 640,000 knee replacement surgeries each year (Source: Headlight/USA Today

  • More people with less severe osteoarthritis are getting new knees, double the number since 2000
  • The vast majority see no real improvement in quality of life after knee replacement surgery.
  • Exercise has been shown to be the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement especially stretching and flexibility movements taking joints through a full range of motion
  • Tufts University found tai chi works better than standard stretching exercises for severe knee osteoarthritis.
  • An hour of tai chi 2 x week resulted in a threefold improvement in pain reduction, range of motion and flexibility after 3 months.
  • Strong muscles support, reduce stress and protect joints affected by arthritis; weight bearing exercises improve muscle strength
  • Exercise can also help you lose weight, which can dramatically reduce knee pain.
  • For every extra pound you carry, three pounds of added stress is added to your knees.

Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, followed 7,500, 45 to 79 year old knee patients.

  • Most people get knee replacements to reduce pain.
  • The study found only “small changes” in quality of life scores after surgery.
  • Many still needed pain medication after the procedure. Reduction in pain drugs was “small,” the study concluded.
  • Patients with the most severe knee osteoarthritis and most limited movement were the ones who improved the most after surgery.


Obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis (Source: seacoastonline.com)

  • Osteoarthritis is more common in persons with elevated blood glucose, high blood pressure, low good cholesterol and greater abdominal fat
  • Diets high in refined starches, sugars, and saturated fats promote an inflammatory state in the body and increase the risk of osteoarthritis
  • A diet high in fiber contains anti-inflammatory substances and is useful not only for osteoarthritis but also for weight loss.


Although osteoarthritis may not be preventable, there are lifestyle habits that can slow the progression and decrease the symptoms. These include a healthy diet, achieving and sustaining a healthy body weight, and establishing a habit of daily physical activity.

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