You Are Doing Something Far Worse Than Smoking

I am going to convince you in just a few minutes that as a result of sitting I am more stupid. I am going to tell you why sitting makes you dumb. Why sitting is actually worse than smoking.

I go to a gym pretty regularly. Whenever I arrive, there is this guy who is running on the treadmill. He is there when I arrive and still there when I leave. I call him “Treadmill Tim.” One might conclude that Treadmill Tim has a wee bit of an exercise addiction… But wait a minute, what if we take “Treadmill Tim” out of the gym and have him perform the same level of activity in a different setting.


All of a sudden he is not so obsessed is he?

It is fascinating how over the last several decades our ideas regarding movement, exercise, and ergonomics have changed with little scientific evidence or basis. We suddenly feel satisfied with a two to three time a week commitment at the gym while the rest of our time is spent sitting in front of a laptop. Who said that was enough? Who decided?


My mother used to work at Lake Louise Resort many years ago for a hotel manager named Jim Schmebe. She used to type in triplicate on her Remington Typewriter sitting outside Big Jim’s office. Ironic that from the palm of my hand I can book reservations, Google directions and call an Uber to pick up my mother, but the majority of us sit exactly like my mother did outside Big Jim’s office 65 years ago. Where are the advancements in “sitting strategy”, the “leaps and bounds” improvements in ergonomics? Why have we accepted sitting for hours and hours a day as okay?

Actually, we don’t sit like my mother did at all.

It’s worse.


Oh honey, Yer super pretty but all that sitting with terrible posture is going to make you forget where your house is in a few decades.”

Let me explain.

Forward head carriage, rounding of the spine, loss of lumbar curve, weakened SI joints, and a deconditioned core are just some of the issues we can “welcome to the party” if we choose to sit for work year after year. But it’s more serious than that. People who sit for more than two hours a day over several years end up being more at risk for diabetes, metabolic disorders, obesity and also CANCER.

But the worst kicker? The most catastrophic repercussion of sitting? The reason why Princess is going to forget where her house is in a couple of decades? People who sit for a living are at higher risk for brain degeneration, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Not kidding.


Let me break it down for you. 😉

  • When you sit, your spine doesn’t move.
  • When your spine doesn’t move, you lack proprioception.
  • Proprioception is feedback from your joints and nerves that give your brain the fuel it needs to operate optimally. You are designed as a perpetual motion machine, and if we don’t adhere to that physiological law, we get into trouble.
  • Think of MOTION or proprioception as “food for your brain.”
  • Dr. Sperry, a Noble Prize winning Brain researcher, tells us that 90% of all nutrition to the brain comes from spinal movement.
  • The more you sit, the more you are starving your brain of food.

Let me define “movement.” I am NOT talking about vigorous exercise. I am not referring to Treadmill Tim! (Although our need for vigorous daily, heart-pumping exercise is a discussion worth having! Another post, I promise.) I am referring to the type of movements that fire the teeny tiny postural muscles in between all of the joints.

Why a subtle kind of movement versus something more strenuous? Because those little teeny tiny muscles, those “postural movers”, contain the most nerves. And being “nerve rich” means that when they fire it’s like feeding the brain superfood.

[Tweet “MOVEMENT is your brain’s KALE.”]

 I am not going to sugar coat this. “Sittingitis” is an epidemic pathology. In schools, the fact that we keep kids pinned to their desks is being considered an accelerant to ADD, ADHD, and some spectrum disorder behaviors. Under-stimulating children’s natural proprioceptive input simply spells disaster.

There is hope, though.

A school in Texas not only reinstituted recess but also added three additional ones for a total of four movement breaks throughout the day. All kids have to move during all four of these periods and shockingly, guess what? Their focus, behavior, memory and test scores have improved. Many schools have incorporated bouncy balls to sit on. American Journal of Pediatrics 2008, American Journal Of Occupational Therapy 2009, USA Today, and The Chicago Tribune all agree to the benefit of using rehab balls to stimulate brain function, improve focus, word access, and general learning. A kindergarten in Japan was intentionally designed and built to keep the kids moving at ALL times. The kids learn as they move. Or more accurately they MOVE TO LEARN.

[Tweet “Under stimulating children’s natural proprioceptive input simply spells disaster.”]

So if we are starting to help our children stay healthier through movement, what can we do with you lot? Well, we start by setting a timer to trigger getting up and moving every thirty minutes. Walk around, stretch, climb stairs or check out THESE GROOVY moves for proprioceptive stimulation. I promise you your productivity will go up with this perceived “interruption.”

BTL Sitting disk 2

 Use a SITTING DISK. The use of this little disk helps increase the movement of your spine during the day, which helps, keep postural muscles strong and brain cells firing.

You can convert to a STANDING STATION. You can easily adapt a kitchen counter or closet to a standing station. Standing means you are inherently going to move around more, and that is just simply good brain-food.


Many corporations like Men’s Health magazine and Microsoft are incorporating treadmill desks. Why? Not because they fear for their employees degenerating health from sitting too much, but because there is statistical evidence demonstrating increased performance and productivity and less sick days with the implementation of treadmill desks.

Any amount you can increase movement in your spine will improve your life, decrease the risk of disease and most importantly allow you to take in and experience your world from a SMARTER perspective.

Sitting IS worse than smoking…

So, don’t be dumb, 😉 … Keep you perpetual moving machine in motion and give that brain a chance to shine brightly.

Check out the ten-minute video I gave on the subject to a group of business people in Seattle!



This week I want you to evaluate your workstation. Even if you are only in front of a computer a few hours a day, you need to consider improvements. Can you go to a standing desk? Do you need to order a sitting disk? Sometimes subtle changes can make huge long-term impacts on your health. Let me know if you would like me to consult with you on how to make your work environment more brain friendly. 




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You're Doing Something Far Worse Than Smoking

15 Responses

    1. Good job, Chloe. You might consider a timer on your phone. I often do that. Or I change position each time I complete a milestone. 🙂

    1. Yes, the data is pretty strong on it! Definitely not the way our bodies were designed. 🙂

    1. Yes!!! I do that when I am driving. Looks hilarious but it makes your brain really happy!

  1. As usual, I love the truth you share! I still don’t have a standing desk, but I do make it a point to move as much as possible throughout the day. Thanks again!

  2. This is so true! I have the worst posture and need to work on it. I am going to send this article to my husband who is missing his standing desk–that seat cushion might be a discrete way of helping in a very ultra conservative work environment!

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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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