Is sitting the new smoking?

After a long day of sitting in the office, it is so nice to come home and relax with some more sitting on the couch. Sitting doesn’t take much effort, so it makes it a great choice for when we are tired and lacking energy… right?

Actually, leading a sedentary lifestyle is killing us. Literally, recent Australian research has shown that for any adult, inactivity reduces your lifespan. The constant sitting during the day slows down our metabolism to about the third of the calories we would use if we were moving, making us more likely to become obese, and makes heart disease and diabetes more likely. Most of us spend more than 9 hours or over half of our day in a seated position. Did you know that office workers can spend up to 80% of their day glued to their seats!

Sitting for long periods throughout your day is now being labelled as a serious health risk, similar to smoking. Except, I don’t believe they are similar at all. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not condone smoking at all. It does horrific things to the body; cancer being one of the worst. However, when we look at a smoker’s routine there are certain aspects of it that we could learn from. A smoker will usually take several short breaks throughout the day. Depending on where the nearest smoker’s area is, they will have to walk 5-10 minutes and these days it has to be outside. As a result of limited smoke friendly areas, smokers can also usually be found flocking together which results in social interaction. So if we were to minus the inhalation of deadly chemicals from this situation, a smoker would be; reducing the amount of time spent sitting, getting daily exercise from walking, and they would be increasing their serotonin and oxytocin levels in the brain by hanging out with others outside.

Smoking is slowly being eliminated from modern society, which in my opinion is for the better. However, let’s try to consider how we could use the ‘smokers break model’ as a way to encourage movement and socialisation while pausing from the rush of everyday life.

You could consider taking ‘Pilates breaks’ throughout the day, here are a couple of our favourite office friendly exercises to get you started:


Circle your neck, shoulders, ankles, and wrists often

To maintain mobility and encourage circulation



Rise up onto your toes and stretch arms above your head

To stretch out your whole spine, energising and revitalising your body.

Roll down into a downward dog

To mobilise and articulate the spine as well as send oxygenated blood to the head.


Hip Flexor stretch

Stretch and release tightness from working in a seated position.

Author – Emily Moffat