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  • Jason Brammall

Sitting, the new smoking was the hot topic of 2013.

Updated: May 24, 2023

Now 5 years on from this groundbreaking research, have we made enough change to increase our lifespans.

Every hour of TV watching after the age of 25 cuts 22 mins from your life expectancy. (Veerman 2012, BMJ) Compared to; Smokers who shorten their lives by 11min per cigarette (BMJ 2000). (Yes, read that again, just so it sinks in really well!!)

Everyone knows smoking is bad for you. It increases your risk of pretty much every disease, the government tax the hell out of it and have banned it from pretty much everywhere to curb behaviour and stop smoking related diseases clogging up our health care and hospitals. There was a time however, when doctors recommended it and you were seen to be cool if you had one in your mouth. Many years later we know better.

This brings me to sitting. Our lifestyles have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, the advancement of technology has bought us a much more sedentary life. For most, we wake up, get ready for work and sit either in our cars or train to work (30-60 mins), we sit for 7-8 hours minimum often without breaks and then the same trip home often longer when trying to get out of the Melbourne CBD (30-60 mins). After that long day of work its only natural you’ll want to rest so we sit and watch some TV or probably a few episodes of your new Netflix binge (2+ hours). I’ll do the quick maths, that’s around 13-14 hours give or take of your 24 hours has been spent sitting. That’s over 50% of your day but hopefully you were asleep for 8. That’s means you may have stood or not sat for 2 hours? That’s pretty scary to think about especially after you find out what that can increase your risk of. Think about smoking but add a few more diseases. Research also suggests that sitting puts more vertical pressure on your spinal discs than any other position. So think about your poor back/health the next time you’re sitting at work. Stand up and take a break. Or better still, get a standing desk and organising walking meetings. Also, take public transport and get off a stop sooner.

Studies linking sitting to early mortality were published widely in 2011/2012. Now some 6 years on, as Physiotherapists we are seeing some change. Workers are adopting more standing desks and more incidental exercise. But there is much more change that needs to happen. And its not just up to our employers, it's in our hands too. Have you changed? Or are you watching more TV? Do you have back pain? Are you exercising?

If you'd like advice on your activity level, back pain or standing desks please get in touch. We are always happy to chat about how we can help you stay pain and injury free. Phone: 0428 963 734 or email:

Excessive sitting and computer use can play havoc with our posture.

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