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Is sitting the new smoking?

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Is sitting the new smoking?

Just don’t get up: Sometimes we feel glued to our office chair. Image: obs

Spending the day just sitting in an office chair is extremely unhealthy, experts say. It’s no longer just about back problems – but about much more far-reaching illnesses, some of which have fatal consequences.

Every health promotion begins with a first step. Does it only reach into the garage or (in the home office) into the room next door? Or are there still a few meters more to the bus stop? Even better if you take your bike, leave the elevator on the left and don’t just call your colleague for the meeting, but visit her directly at her workplace. This gets us moving and away from endless sessions that harm us. We have known this for a long time and have digital technologies that count our daily steps and calories burned and encourage us to exercise more. However, it doesn’t help at all: “Sitting times are increasing more and more,” says Birgit Sperlich, a sports scientist with a doctorate.

The employee at the Sports Institute at the University of Würzburg researches everyday activity and health consequences. What it’s actually about is everyday passivity: Across all professions and industries, employees sit for an average of 205 minutes every working day for work-related reasons; in 2014 it was 136 minutes. A trend towards less physical work and more services, which can be found in the current health report from the German health insurance company DKV. Sperlich was involved in this and speaks of the “sedentary lifestyle” in German: you are awake and use up little energy because you are mainly looking at a screen – and hardly do more than move your fingers.

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