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sedentary lifestyle is sitting the new smoking test

Sedentary Lifestyle: Is Sitting The Same As Smoking?

Musculoskeletal physiotherapist Naveena runs you through a sedentary lifestyle test where you can find out if you’re moving enough. From there, the next steps are up to you. Quite literally. The treatment for a sedentary lifestyle is to get out and get moving. If you’re around in Pascoe Vale our Exercise Physiologists are experts in building healthy movement habits and would be a great ally for you to get started.


What comes to your mind when you think about a sedentary lifestyle?

In my head it conjures up a picture of an inactive person. An inviting comfy sofa, Netflix, some snacks. Maybe even a glass of wine. We all need to rest and recover and if that picture sounds pretty good, it really is.

But how much of a good thing is too much?

The word sedere is a Latin verb which means ‘sit’. A sedentary lifestyle is when you spend too much time on activities that have a low energy expenditure. This is measured in METS. A MET is a metabolic equivalent where 1 MET is the amount of energy you use when sitting still. So if you’re spending too much time on activities that are less than 1.5 METS you’re living a sedentary lifestyle.

It used to be that sitting was the domain of the rich and powerful. The rest of us ploughed the fields and tended the animals. Over time we worked in factories and mines. All very active, hands on and high MET jobs. We also used to smoke heavily too, in just the last 20 years in Australia daily smoking has dropped from over 20% of the adult population to around 11%. We are more informed, we’ve quit smoking because we know how bad it is for our health and the health of those around us.

But sitting? We’re only starting to appreciated just how bad sitting for too long is on our health. In another 20 years we will be looking back at our sedentary lifestyles and shake our heads.

Are Our Pets Sitting Too Much Too?

In the animal kingdom, sedentary creatures ones are non-migratory or non-nomadic in nature. They are mostly found on the ocean floor firmly attached to a surface. 

Somewhat like us, attached to the chair, sofa, car seat.

As technology develops at a very rapid pace, we find ourselves sitting more and more. Becoming rusted on barnacles on our favourite seats.

It used to be that leisure activities like watching TV and reading were the main sedentary activities. But now all our work, school, housework and leisure happens when we are sitting down. 

This issue has never been more relevant than the present times.

Sedentary Lifestyles Meets A Global Pandemic

A global study conducted recently to assess the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on sedentary lifestyles. They found that screen time has increased to more than 50% of total sedentary time in children and adults.

So, how do we measure sedentary lifestyles. Measure sitting? There are 2 ways. Self-report tools like questionnaires and devices like accelerometers and heart rate monitors.

The questionnaires are practical, cost-effective and more importantly inform us about the context of our sitting, something that a device cant tell us.

Here we go. Take the following quiz to hold a mirror up to your lifestyle.

About the Author

expert in sedentary lifestyle physiotherapist naveena

Naveena Seethapathy is a physiotherapist working in Pascoe Vale. Naveena has a passion for helping you live your best life. Being active and happy, and is also the resident quiz master at PridePlus Health. As a physio with the elite title of APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist you can be assured that you’ll receive quality physio care from Naveena.