Sitting as dangerous as smoking? Both shorten your life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2014

The human body wasn’t designed for extended periods of sitting, but that’s what most America workers do now.

And that affects obesity rates, which in turn is linked to more than 60 chronic diseases.

As a result, health experts are starting to think of sitting as the news smoking, Andalusia chiropractor Dr. Jon Raley told Rotarians on Tuesday.

“Smoking one cigarette is estimated to take 11 minutes off your life,” Raley said. “Sitting for 30 minutes is also estimated to talk 11 minutes off your life.”

Smoking rates are at an all-time low, he said.

“But we would sit here for 30 minutes, and not bat an eye at that,” he said.

Raley said he wants to raise awareness of the potential problems that result.

What do smoking and sitting have in common?

“Both of them are going to suffocate you,” he said.

He asked members of the audience to sit up, in a position that allowed the natural curve of the back, and then to take a deep breathe – an experience that is far different from breathing in while sitting in a slumped position.

Both smoking and sitting are habits, he said.

“We can choose to do them or not do them,” he said. “Time magnifies habits.”

And sloppy habits end up affecting lives.

People need to change how they think about sitting, and how they actually sit.

He also cited a study published by the British organization The Lancet which found that one of every 10 deaths worldwide is attributable to inactivity.

While people are often admonished to “sit up straight,” he said, we are healthiest is we sit with the low back forward, allowing the curves of the spine to work.

“With proper sitting, we can take any seat into and make that into a good chair for us,” he said.

Also important is unwinding from sitting – or taking a break to move at least every 30 minutes, which changes the way the mind and body works.

By sitting more on front of chair, he said, the body is more engaged, and one can stave off the 2 o’clock blahs.

Cigarettes are not actually killers, he said. It is the habit of smoking them that kills. Similarly, chairs are not the enemy.

“It’s how we use chairs,” he said. “It’s important to make them be a good habit over the long haul.”


Dr. Raley earned a bachelors of arts degree from Harding University in marketing. He attended the Life University outside of Atlanta, and Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, S.C., graduating as Doctor of Chiropractic.

His wife is a native of Crestview, where the family now lives. They have two children, Hannah (8) and Holden (6).