Have you heard: “Sitting is the new smoking”? Is there any truth to that? Or, is that just another headline-grabbing scare tactic courtesy of the media?

Dr. James Levine, a world authority on obesity research and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, has been quoted as saying, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” In a study published in the highly respected journal The Lancet, a group of researchers estimated that physical inactivity causes as many deaths each year as smoking.

And there’s no question that there’s compelling and accumulating evidence that being sedentary (i.e., lack of physical activity) is associated with increased risk of death from all causes. This is quite alarming considering that adults are sedentary for a whopping 9 – 10 hour per day (not including sleeping).

Despite the accuracy of the advisory “Sit less, move more”, it’s not all that helpful (duh). And the crazy thing is that even regular exercise is probably not enough to offset the potential deleterious effects of sitting. After all, research shows that “both the total volume of sedentary time and its accrual in prolonged, uninterrupted bouts are associated with all-cause mortality.”

Ready for some encouraging news? Research shows that a sedentary person who increases his step count (from 

What’s the point? Move more and sit less…just kidding! Using a fitness/step tracker (e.g., Fitbit®), aim for 7,000 – 10,000 steps per day. Just as importantly, break up periods of physical inactivity (e.g., sitting still) by setting an alarm to get up and move at least once every hour.