Nurse practitioner: "Sitting is the new smoking"

Family Nurse Practitioner Julie Miller said it's hard to reverse the damage done by prolonged periods of sitting on a regular basis.

Whether it's in the car or behind a desk, time spent sitting takes up much of the average day. SSM Health Family Nurse Practitioner Julie Miller said that's concerning, because sitting can contribute to serious health issues. She said many medical experts have started to say, "sitting is the new smoking."

She said that's because much like smoking, there are very few positive actions you can take to mitigate the negative effects of sitting. "I think that folks think that if they sit eight hours a day, maybe more with their commute, but go home and exercise, they're healthy," she said. "But sitting for long periods of time contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancers, as well as depression."

Miller said that since exercise doesn't reverse the damage done by prolonged sitting, it's important to find a way to break up extended sedentary periods. "Intermittent times of standing and moving around - it's really easy to do. Stand at your desk. Get on a phone call and stand during that phone call," she said. "If you just think about it as making minor modifications, take a walk around your office, or around the lunch room after you eat.. It can increase your overall health tremendously."

She said If you find yourself glued to your chair, try setting an hourly alarm as a reminder - that's your chance to get up and reset yourself physically.

Miller said consistently incorporating more frequent movement throughout the day is a small change that pays off big time: "Smoking is bad for you even if you get a lot of exercise - and sitting is bad for you even if you get a lot of exercise. It's important to stand up intermittently throughout the day."

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