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Is sitting REALLY the new smoking?

You've probably read or at least heard (at least a 1000 times by now, thanks to your snarky colleagues) that being sat at your desk for hours on end is as bad for you health as smoking nicotine. It seems pretty far-fetched to me, but a little digging and there does seem to be an emerging amount of evidence to back up the claim. With so many chronic diseases associated with inactivity, it's no surprise that sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day isn't going to get us brownie point with your GP.


I'll be the first to admit I sit for hours on end at my desk as least a few days a week - answering emails. editing food photos and writing blog posts about not sitting down. I even have a delightful fitness tracker that buzzes when i've been sedentary for too long - which is great, but for a fitness enthusiast mine seems to go off all too often.

Why sitting sucks

  1. Blood Sugar Spikes

    Sitting for a long time can effect your blood sugar and insulin, causing sedentary people to be more at risk of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. This article published in Diabetologia examined the results of 18 studies with nearly 800,000 participants and determined that those who sat the most were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as the individuals who sat least.

  2. There's an increased cancer risk

    According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (that observed 4 million people!), sitting for long periods of time is associated with increased risk of colon, endometrial and, potentially lung cancer. In physically active people, sitting still increased the risk, which worsened with each two hour increase of butt-time.

  3. It interferes with fat breakdown

    The enzyme responsible for breaking down fat to use as energy (lipoprotein lipase or LPL) could be less productive whilst sitting. In a study published in The Journal of Physiology, mice were tested for LPL levels whilst laying down, standing and exercising. LDL activity in the laying mice was low, but levels rose more than 10 times when the mice stood. interestingly, exercise had no additional effects on the LDL levels.  Researchers expect the results to carry over in humans too!

  4. It makes us feel blue

    It's no surprise that staring at a computer screen all day has been linked with depression. Researchers say that reducing our circulation through sitting inhibits the 'feel-good hormones' reaching our receptors. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicineshowed that when it came to sitting, those who sat for more than seven hours a day were 47% more likely to suffer from depression than those who sat four hours or fewer.

Problem Solved

Always looking for ways to be healthier, I heard from a girlfriend about her new stand-up desk. I'd previously tried one at a co-working space I used last year, but everyone who hot-desked would run for them as soon as the doors opened, and I rarely got a turn.


I was SO stoked when I was asked to trial a Varidesk standing desk at home. It arrived ready-assembled (sigh of relief, girls) and is super simple to operate. This model (the bestselling ProPlus36) is a desk-top solution that sits on your existing table. I love how versatile it is - It can be used in a seated position when your legs get a little tired, or just press on the hidden handles and raise it up for your healthy standing stint.


I've been using it when editing photos - I'm usually sat doing it for hours after a food shoot and loose track of time. It's seriously increased my concentration, and has stopped me crossing my legs for hours on end (which my mum still tells me is a terrible habit).


If you try it and you don't love it, they'll even cover our return shipping. What have you got to lose?


Editors note: This post is sponsored by Varidesk. We only ever recommend products and services that we have tried, tested and have genuinely fallen in love with. All opinions are ours, baby. Thank you for supporting the businesses that make The Fit Foodie Blog possible.

Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also works as a commercial food photographer and stylist, is studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and is the author of two cookbooks: Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017) and Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch, 2019).


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