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HealthWatch: Sitting Vs. Smoking

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A doctor sits at her desk. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

A doctor sits at her desk. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

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(CBS 5) – Smoking cigarettes is the cause of so much preventable, deadly disease. But now new research shows sitting for long stretches of time may be just as dangerous.

“Smoking certainly is a major cardiovascular risk factor and sitting can be equivalent in many cases,” explained Dr. David Coven, cardiologist with St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

Dr. Coven said several new studies show prolonged sitting is now being linked to increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and even early death.

“The fact of being sedentary causes factors to happen in the body that are very detrimental,” said Dr. Coven.

Dr. Coven says when you sit for long periods of time; your body goes into storage mode,

When that happens, it stops working as effectively as it should. What’s worse, the more hours a day you sit, the greater your likelihood of developing one or more of these diseases, just as with smoking.

Linda Caufield has a desk job. She sits nearly seven hours a day.

“I’m on the computer, I’m on the phone, I’m doing paperwork so all that stuff has to be done at my desk,” she said.

Linda had no idea her desk was so deadly, noting how “sitting is probably killing me.”

Paul Golin says he was sitting up to eight hours a day. But after a recent heart health scare, he bought a “stand up” desk. It’s a contraption that rests on a treadmill.

“I turn on the treadmill and walk for about an hour a day,” said Golin.

Golin’s measures may seem extreme but so are the consequences of sitting. Dr. Coven recommeded to just get up and move when you can.

“Any time you get the blood pumping, the blood moving, it stimulates the organs to do things that are healthier,” said Coven.

If you think that hour of cardio you do every day negates the effect of your desk job, think again.

So get up at the office at any chance you get, don’t send emails when you can deliver the message in person, take the stairs, stand up when you take a phone call. And don’t forget to take your breaks, and take a walk.

To view research from American College of Cardiology, click here.

Other research on effects of sedentary behavior:

Karolinska Institutet editorial, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine

Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer

Leisure time sedentary behavior and metabolic syndrome

Leisure time sitting and mortality in U.S. adults

Sedentary Behavior & Cancer

Sedentary Behavior & Colorectal Cancer

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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