Sitting is the new smoking

The gym classes, the new juicer, the cardio apps – it’s all so old school.

The thing now is to stand up.

fitness-for-mums-team-magnus Lose the chair, gain fitness

If you sit a lot, then more exercise time doesn’t make up for the damage which sitting is doing to your body. It’s not about creating more activity, it’s about cutting down inactivity.

It is as easy as it sounds, but first a quick round-up of what advocates call the “sitting disease”:

The muscle movements needed for standing trigger important processing of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these healthy processes stall. Risks are raised for heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and stroke. In addition you develop mushy abs, limp glutes, tight hips and soft bones. Don’t take it from me – plenty of infographics on for example www.juststand.org.

“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as for smokers”, says cardiologist Martha Grogan at the Mayo Clinic.

A lot of online advice is directed at office workers, and of course we can all stand up while making phone calls, we can walk in our lunch breaks and we can call on people, not email them.

But parents have a fantastic method at hand.

Copy your kids. Join them. Kids under 10 would rather play mediocre football in the back garden than watch amazing football for 90 minutes. They would rather play tig than catch up with friends on the phone. In fact, give them a pavement or a wall and most kids prefer the most inconvenient option – balancing high up. When did we all become so boring?

Becoming a parent is shudderingly time-consuming and many of us drop out of team sports and competing. But you can regain all the amazing, undignified, not particularly glorious but oh so healthy habits of childhood. You can crawl. You can clamber. You can balance. You can skip, chase and roll on the grass. Hanging out with kids justifies a lot of silly action!

It’s the saddest thing I hear in public places: “Don’t climb up there!”. All that can happen if the girl falls, is that she may break a bone.

If you stay seated on the park bench, however, you can die.