A man working sitting in front of the computer.

  • “When comparing the effects of smoking with sedentary lifestyle, what is sought is an alert so that we can see the seriousness of the matter”, explains the spokesman for the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians, Lorenzo Armenteros.

  • Cardiologist Wael Jaber and other scientists say a sedentary lifestyle may even affect our lifespan more than smoking.

  • Sitting for a long time increases the risk of heart disease by 12 to 13%, in addition to other pathologies

It’s common in some jobs, but it’s not healthy. To spend more than 6 hours sitting in front of a computer five days a week without getting up or doing a little, is considered sedentary And experts warn: it is a health risk factor as serious as smoking.

According to the Ministry of Health, sedentary lifestyle is “that activity that people perform while we are awake, they use very little energy (energy expenditure less than 1.5 MET), sitting, reclining or lying down”. And among adults it is very common. One study calculated that an adult spends an average of ten hours a day sitting, between work and leisure. consequences.

The first effects caused by spending so much time in the chair are easily detectable: back problems, neck, muscle tensionr or contractures, but the most serious is what is not appreciated with the naked eye, cardiovascular problems derived from a sedentary day

Another recent study argues that sitting for so long increases the risk of heart disease and premature death by 12% to 13%, compared to people who spend less than four hours a day sitting. Those who remain seated about eight hours present a risk of 20%. A sedentary lifestyle is also associated with type 2 diabetes, as well as to the risk of cancer.

That’s why scientists have spent years comparing its consequences with smoking. Some even dare to quantify it. Researcher and nutrition expert Ata Pouramini compares the harm of sitting for long hours to smoking a pack of tobacco a day. He describes ‘sittin’ as “the new epidemic of the 21st century” and guarantees that the life of a person with a sedentary job “can be reduced by 15 years”.

A study by cardiologist Wael Jaber already showed in 2018 that the A sedentary lifestyle can even affect our life expectancy more than smoking: “We all know that a sedentary or out of shape lifestyle has some risk. But I Surprisingly, they outweigh even risk factors as strong as smoking, diabetes or even end-stage disease,” explains Jaber about his results.

Other researchers in Sweden came to similar conclusions in another study published in 2016 in the journal European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (“European Journal of Preventive Cardiology”) where they compared the mortality associated with a sedentary lifestyle with other risk factors most commonly associated with cardiovascular problems and confirmed the damage that comes from inactivity.

“What do we want is to give perspective that all these risk factors are bad and that we should see physical inactivity as equally important not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet,” explains Harvard University professor I-Min Lee, author of an analysis of sedentary lifestyles published in the journal The Lancet.

The specialists, therefore, seek to warn of the importance of a risky practice for our health that we are sometimes unaware of: “When comparing the effects of smoking with a sedentary lifestyle, what is sought is an alert so that we can see the seriousness of the matter, saying: this is as bad as smoking!”, comments the spokesman for the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians, Dr. Lorenzo Armenteros, who emphasizes that The most important thing is to be aware that “sedentary lifestyle is already a risk factor”, not only in cardiovascular pathologies but in many others that are influenced or aggravated by a sedentary lifestyle.

The good news is that there is a solution: to move.

A team from Columbia University (USA) has shown that getting up from a chair and walking for just five minutes every half hour can neutralize some of the most harmful effects.

“What most reduces mortality is physical activityit has already been demonstrated that this is associated with an improvement in quality of life”, adds Dr. Armenteros. And the World Health Organization (WHO) agrees with him when estimating that if applied a more active lifestyle could be avoided up to five million deaths per year.