Your chair could ‘kill’ you! Really?

Your chair could ‘kill’ you! Really?

Sitting continuously could bring many challenges to your health.

If you truly love yourself, you had better read this piece while stand­ing!

The other “inactivity” that rivals sitting for long periods when it comes to poor health and untimely death is LONELINESS! Sitting and Loneliness are the new smoking.

It is often common to hear a parent tell a child, “Sit quietly and watch television and I will make a quick dash to town.” Well, this harm­less and well-meaning statement is now being vilified. That parent could have said “smoke a few sticks of cig­arettes while I dash off to town.” Yes “sitting is the ‘new smoking.”

Scientists: they keep coming up with many weird findings and unfortunate­ly, we realise after much ado that they may be right. People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovas­cular (heart & blood vessel) diseases as those with standing jobs – the bankers are cringing in their seats I bet. It appears that compared to sit­ting, standing is hard work. Imagine that you need to engage many mus­cles to stand upright, and this burns energy. Sitting on the other hand is extremely relaxing.

When we sit, the ‘physiology of inactivity’ kicks in and when we think we are relaxing in a chair made from heaven, our body instead rewards us with many bad things; enzymes that break down fat may drop by about 90 percent, calorie burning drops to frightening low levels and soon good cholesterol that protects us also drops. If you sit long enough even your insulin effectiveness drops and you will be courting diabetes in the long run.

I sincerely believe in getting a workout during the day, but you should not think that it gives you a license to sit at your desk for hours on end. We should ensure that we get up from our desk to walk briefly or even stretch. I am not giving you an excuse for loitering around your office or forming a gossip team. After an hour of sitting, it will benefit you if you walk for a minute or two.

Why is sitting now being described as the smoking of our time? Well, a few decades ago, it was almost fashionable to be smoking and we were exposed to all the risks it comes with; heart disease and hypertension, strokes and a gargantuan list. Fast forward to 2024 and many people are spending long hours sitting at their desk either working, studying or pretending to do one of the two and for others they sit to entertain themselves or simply sit because they have nothing else to do. Sitting continuously also brings on many of the challenges that smoking poses and their rates of causing harm are similar.

Verdict: you can’t even sit comfort­ably now and ‘mind your own busi­ness.’ In addition to the heart and blood vessel challenges that sitting will heap on you, the back, neck and knee pains abound the longer you remain seated.

There should be a simple way to avoid the dangers that sitting brings to the ‘table’ – redo what our ances­tors did. I am sure in centuries long gone, sitting and relaxing could mean being devoured by a wild animal so those who got moving; chasing game, running around lived on but develop­ment meant we refuse to walk now and will cook up every conceivable excuse not to move. We will make a phone call to a colleague who sits 10 metres away from us, we will drive to buy kenkey about 50metres from home, yet we will eat a huge dinner fit for a sumo wrestler.

Oh, in case you planned to sleep instead to avoid the dangers associat­ed with walking; there is a little hitch here, sleeping for well over eight hours may not add extra benefits and spending extra hours just to lay in bed or on a couch is as bad to your health as sitting – keep moving please for best results. Standing is a distant second.

Let us try these in our quest to im­prove our health:

• Make time to exercise

• At the top of every hour or

maximum two, take a break from

your chair and walk for a couple

of minutes or stretch.

• Whenever you have an

opportunity use the stairs instead

of the elevator (lift)

• Walk to a colleagues desk to talk

instead of using the phone or

sending an email or text etc

• If you are willing to dare, you

could even organise walk

meetings. When you have a

meeting with a handful of people

you could lace your boots and

start walking while you

talk. Who knows being out

of a box (office etc) could

help you think “out of the

box” or even think like

“there is no box”. The best

aspect of such a meeting is

people are more attentive

since they are unable to

fidget with their smart

phones and other gadgets.

• All lectures and classes

(children are really

suffering in school these

days) should have a ‘Heart

Preserving’ five-minute

break after every hour.

Spend that time walking

and stretching.

• All long movies should have

commercial breaks that

should be used to at least


• Whenever in doubt, at

least stand for a while.

Well some people are trying innovative ways of even having small treadmills at their desk that keeps them moving, oth­ers are adopting a new chair design that essentially makes you stand at your desk, a few others sit on exercise balls that forces them to adjust their po­sitions all the time but for the rest of us simply taking breaks and using every opportunity to move is just what the doctor prescribed.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Health Essentials Ltd/Mobissel


*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor with a keen interest in Lifestyle Medicine, He holds an MBA and is ISSA certi­fied in exercise therapy, fitness nu­trition and corrective exercise. He is the author of the award-winning book, ‘Unravelling The Essentials of Health & Wealth.’

Thought for the week – For good heart health; exercise often, eat healthy, do not smoke, minimize alcohol and sit less.

By Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

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