Sitting is the new smoking

26 May 2015
This year, to mark Spinal Health Week 2015, the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) is encouraging every Australian to “Get Your Happy Back”.

“Every day more and more Australians experience disabling low back pain, neck pain and headaches, limiting their ability to work and engage in an active healthy life,” said CAA President, Dr Laurie Tassell.

One explanation for this is the negative impact an increasingly sedentary lifestyle has on postural fitness. So Canstar caught up with Dr Billy Chow (Chiropractor), Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (National) – Board Director and Head of the Public Education Committee (CAA National) Board Governor, Australian Spinal Research Foundation, for some tips on what Australian adults can do to improve their posture.

Q: There are a few office seating trends around at the moment including fitballs and standing rather than sitting. Can these help mitigate the effects of a sedentary office role?

A: Now more than ever, we are sitting more and more. To the extent that by the time we calculate all the sitting we do in an average day, most of us are only left with about 1.5hrs to do any form of activity. Health professionals along with Chiropractors have coined the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” because of the impact this can have on health.

Sitting on fitballs requires our brain and body to constantly process, change and move our spine, joints and muscles. Which is better and healthier than a traditional chair. However standing is even better. Standing reduced the stress on our posture that sitting has. It also reduces the stress on our joints and muscles.

The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia developed the Sit Right Widget as a simple tool to prompt computer users to take more regular breaks.  The default setting is to prompt for a break every hour, although users can change these settings for 20 minute or 40 minute intervals should this assist with meeting advice from your healthcare professional.

Download the Sit Right Widget to remind you to take regular breaks

Q: What are some other easy ways to exercise during the day at work?

  • Make a commitment to put into your schedule some yoga, pilates or a gym class.
  • Take regular breaks to get up and walk to the water fountain or to get a glass of water
  • CAA National has some great resources you can use such as our Sit Right Widget, Just Start Walking App and free Workplace presentations you can use. You can find these and other resources from
  • Learn how to do some better posture exercise in the chair, or get up and do them.
  • try and fit in as many movement/exercise opportunities as possible throughout the day to mitigate the long hours sitting (park the car further and walk a little longer, take the stairs, walk at lunch break)

Another useful App developed by the CAA is the “Just Start Walking App”. A low-impact activity that gets everything moving, walking is a great way to keep your body strong and your posture aligned. The App allows you to measure, map and share your walks – to keep you on track, so to speak.

Allocating some regular time each day to maintaining your core strength and posture is terrific preventative medicine. You can find out more about Spinal Health Week on the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia website.

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