Is Sitting The New Smoking In Your Life?

By Jim Kirwan FCIPD

Previously, I’ve said that 10,000 Steps/Day was NOT by itself an effective goal and since then quite a few people have questioned me about this. The main reason is because it FAILS a simple, but in my view, critical test which is: How Realistic Is It?

It may be a target which many can reach eventually but it’s too challenging initially for many people, probably a large majority, who need to introduce more activity and movement into their lives. Now to be clear, 10,000 steps has its place but in my view it should not be used in isolation. Unfortunately, it is used this way in many Employee Well Being programs, which I believe is a significant problem. It helps explain why so many employees are disengaged from their organization’s physical activity initiatives. This raises another very important question.


How Much Exercise Do You Need To Do?

The Minimum Recommended activity level is 3 hours a week, inclusive of 30 minutes of strength exercise. So, if you are not yet doing the minimum you need to gradually and progressively work your way up to that level. However, when you get there you shouldn’t stop; instead you should continue to work your way, gradually and progressively, up to the Optimum Level of 7 hours a week or an average of 1 hour a day [American Physical Activity Guidelines 2008].


A Word of Caution: the activity I am referring to is sometimes referred to as “Planned Exercise”; going to the gym, going for a walk, a run, a swim, a bike ride, 3, 4 or 5 times a week. It does NOT include “Unplanned Exercise” which refers to all the moving you do from the moment you get up in the morning, to when you go to bed at night, excluding the planned stuff. Unfortunately this form of physical activity has been totally decimated over the last 20, 30 or 40 years because of change, progress, new technology and our culture of convenience. Indeed there are increasing concerns in the health and fitness community, backed up by science that “sitting is the new smoking”! You may even be an active couch potato – someone who does a lot of planned exercise but also spends a lot of time sitting – thinking you are healthy but you are at greater risk than you think.


The Solution: Thankfully, whether you do a lot of planned exercise or not, the solution is simple though it’s not easy to achieve without some effort. In addition to your planned exercise you need to move more than you do. You need to develop a moving mindset looking for opportunities to reduce the amount of sitting you do and to get up and move, as much as you can, throughout the day! This raises another important question which I’ll answer in my next article.

What Kind of Exercise, Activity and Moving Do I Need To Do?



Jim Kirwan is a best selling author, professional speaker, health and fitness coach and an employee wellbeing consultant. He recently returned to Ireland after 14 years operating in the health and wellbeing space in America. He’s hosting Ireland’s 1st “Strategic” Wellbeing Conference in Dublin on 30 Nov. called FIT-CEO Optimum Performance; FIT-CEO is an acronym for the 6 key ingredients of sustainable employee and organisation wellbeing.
Developing a “Sustained Healthy Lifestyle” for everyone, is just one of the key elements of the Well Being & Lifestyle Conference in DCU, All Hallows on 9th November.



If you have any questions or if you’d like to discuss the conference over a cup of coffee, call me on 086.456.9502, email me at [email protected] or simply message me here on LinkedIn.

My Motto: “You don’t have to be fit and healthy to start, but you do have to start to be fit and healthy.”