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Sitting is NOT the new smoking 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

I’ve always taken the position that “sitting is the new smoking” was probably irresponsible fear-mongering. I’m quite pleased with myself that I never swallowed the hype. And now science has my back.

Pulsford et al. is a good FUD-fighter: its results directly contradict the overhyped notion that a lot of sitting is just as dangerous as smoking, an idea that’s been around for a few years now, and it always reeked of premature fear-mongering speculation. There was never any good evidence for it, but this is good evidence that “sitting time was not associated with all-cause mortality risk” in over 5,000 subjects.

This doesn’t remotely get us off the exercise hook. It doesn’t mean that a sedentary lifestyle is safe or healthy, but it does strongly suggest that we aren’t doomed by it (that is, you likely can compensate for a lot of time in a chair by being as active as possible otherwise).

And it’s still possible that sedentariness is unhealthy independently of other exercise, and I’m sure we’re going to see more research about it. Regardless, the scary headlines over the last few years were not defensible, and this new evidence is definitely reassuring.

I’ve updated my main chair trouble article with a reference to Pulsford …

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