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home : health : health December 10, 2018

11/20/2018 1:28:00 PM
No, sitting is not the same as smoking
By Andrew Loscutoff

Recently, there has been a lot of attention grabbing headlines and news reports depicting sitting as a disease of our society, arguing that sitting poses the same life expectancy detriment as smoking. While such hype serves its purpose as an attention-grabber, it ought to be considered fake news.

There is no argument that being sedentary is detrimental to our bodies. Increased body fat, insulin sensitivity, high blood pressure, all can be conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease may follow. While inactivity is the main culprit here, it cannot be diagnosed as a direct cause: diet, lifestyle, and other fitness are what determines this, not simply sitting. If the logic of associating all of these to a specific cause were true then one could also say that eating meat is as bad as smoking. As The Guardian published on March 5, 2014, it is not meat or sitting that causes disease but rather our overconsumption of the two also with a lack of proper exercise.

This is very different than lighting up a cigarette and inhaling chemical vapors in order to achieve a relaxed and level state.

Smoking poses a very different set of risks. Smoking can be attributed to 6 million worldwide deaths from related diseases per year worldwide. It undoubtedly causes many cancers such as, lung, throat, stomach, and more. It is a terrible burden on the smoker and others, as many of the ill effects can also be had secondhand. Smoking degrades lung function, poses risks such as elevated blood pressure, and plays its role in a variety of other health conditions. As one can infer, this is very different than simply sitting on the couch and enjoying some downtime.

Looking at the problem in a different way, a smoker develops a dependency on their cigarettes through brain chemistry recognizing the nicotine as a feel-good chemical, this increases dopamine and gives the person a reward. Keep smoking and eventually they become addicted to the rewarding inhalations of nicotine. This addiction is hard to control; 70 percent of smokers say they are planning to or trying to quit. Only 5 to 6 percent actually do.

Sitting, on the other hand, creates no psychological dependency; there's no system in the body creating an uncontrollable craving to sit all day. There is no chemical damage to our lungs, and periphery from sitting. Yes, muscle degradation is a thing, but this consequence is not from a chemical invader into the body.

On the other hand, you cannot just simply get up and walk around and believe you're no longer at risk of the most common diseases associated with lack of proper diet and exercise.

Look at the clickbait headlines with a skeptical eye - and get out and enjoy some good exercise in smoke-free air.

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