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Why we’re ‘sitting ourselves to death’ — Forever 39 Podcast

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In 2014, a doctor made headlines when he said “sitting is the new smoking.” The phrase, which is now commonly used by journalists to convey just how dangerous prolonged periods of sitting is for our health, was coined by Dr. James Levine, director of Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative.

Levine gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times that was published in July 2014 in which he explained just how dangerous sitting is.

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting,” he said. “We are sitting ourselves to death.”

And boy do Americans do a lot of sitting. From sitting all day at work to sitting in front of the TV at night, we are a sedentary bunch. In fact, a survey commissioned by Ergotron in 2013 showed that Americans are sitting a whopping 13 hours per day. That’s an average number, so it’s likely that there are plenty of people doing a whole lot more sitting than that. And that number doesn’t include the amount of time we spend sleeping!

So what does all this sitting mean? For starters, it means we could all be shortening our lifespan. Study after study shows the longer we sit, the more harm we are doing to our health. According to information from Mayo Clinic, sitting for hours on end can lead to a number of health problems including:

  • Increased risk of certain cancers
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Weakened gluteal and leg muscles
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Hip and back problems
  • Varicose veins

Now that we’ve established just how bad sitting is, what can we do about it? A Google search using the phrase “tips for sitting less,” comes up with pages and pages of results, but we found the tips published by Fast Company to be pretty comprehensive.

In this Forever 39 podcast episode, we talk about what you can do to decrease the amount of sitting you’re doing — the key is to get off your bum and move.

If you have any tips that you have found helpful to combat long periods of prolonged sitting, send us an email at

Also from this week’s Forever 39 podcast — More men are marrying up. PLUS: Why we freak out when the doorbell rings! Click on the podcast player above to hear the entire episode.

Share your thoughts on all of them below, on Twitter, on Facebook or at

— Annette and Megan, Forever 39

Get to know your hosts: Annette and Megan

Join us for next week’s podcast when we chat about sexual fluidity, our favorite horror movies, and kid expenses that parents say are a waste of money!

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