Is Sitting as Unhealthy as Smoking? We Share Why You Should Ditch the Chair

You’ve seen the headlines: “sitting is the new smoking!”, “Sitting is just as bad for you as smoking!” There’s a reason shocking headlines like this get us to pay attention – it challenges what we think about our daily routine and health habits. Nonsmokers can’t believe plopping down on the couch is as bad as lighting up, and smokers may question how their habit is on par with their daily office routine.

But is it even true? Is sitting – long periods of inactivity – as bad for you long-term as smoking is?

Let’s look at the similarities:

Source: CDC, Mayo Clinic

As you can see, according to sources like the Mayo Clinic and CDC, there is some overlap between long periods of sitting and smoking, such as an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular conditions.


Why are we talking about this now – or seeing more effects from sitting now? A study from 2019 looked at American sedentary behavior from 2001-2016. The study concluded that sitting and watching television or videos for at least two hours a day remained stable and high for the entire period studied; however, estimated computer use during down time and estimated total sitting time both increased among teens and adults.

Many people go from spending an 8-hour work day sitting at a desk to their cars (also sitting) to trying to relax at home by plugging in to a device: a tablet, laptop, phone, or tv. Those hours all add up!

So if sitting can have some of the same negative health effects as smoking, what can you do to improve your health? There are some basic simple steps anyone can take to reduce their risk of developing sitting-related health issues:

Although sitting can be unhealthy – and does share some of the risks of smoking – you can change your behavior to reduce your risk pretty easily. Reducing time spent in a chair, whether that’s at work or home, by making a point of being up and active, can help keep you healthier. Being sure you get exercise ideally every day, but at least several times a week, is also vital.

Beginning or maintaining an active lifestyle can be difficult if you’re struggling with pain or movement problems. Seeing a physical therapist to help address these issues can be the difference between a sedentary, unhealthy life and an active, healthier one.


Body One Physical Therapy works with patients of all ages and activity levels, who have a wide variety of health goals: from post-op recovery, to returning to their favorite sport, to simply living better with less pain. We’re locally owned and operated, with three convenient locations serving Central Indianapolis: North Meridian, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t wait to start living better and reaching your goals, call or click today!