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Sitting is the New Smoking?!?

Body in chairWhen I began as a voice coach, smoking was rampant in the news business.  Many broadcasters smoked at their desks everyday.  I became very vocal about the harmful effects of smoking, and a lot has changed on that front in the last twenty-five years.  So imagine my surprise when I heard this warning:  “Sitting is the New Smoking!”

Dr. David Agus, an oncologist, says that if you sit all day it can be as harmful as smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day.  Wow!  The reason for this is that sitting increases your risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, deep vein thrombosis, and early death.

Reading this got me interested in researching how this could affect broadcasters and voiceover artists.  I know that sitting can decrease vocal energy and limit proper breathing (click here to read more about this), but could it be more dangerous?  The answer is, yes.

The most alarming data is from an American Cancer Society study that showed if you sit for more than six hours a day, your risk of premature death increases by more than 40% even if you do aerobic exercise everyday.  That thirty minutes of aerobics doesn’t give you the payoff you wanted if you sit most of the rest of the day.

Another study shows the positive side. Sitting for less than three continuous hours a day may add as much as two years to your life.

But how can a voiceover artist sitting to record, or an average news director, cut sitting down to less than three hours at a time?  Here are some suggestions for all of us:

  1. Set an alarm on your phone or computer to go off every hour.  If you’re sitting when it goes off, stand up or walk around for five minutes.
  2. When watching tv at home, get up during commercials and stretch.
  3. Stand whenever you talk on the phone.
  4. If you’re on a trip in the car or on a plane, stand and stretch every hour .
  5. Wear a pedometer.  Taking less than 5000 steps a day is considered sedentary.
  6. Limit long meetings or do as some companies are doing and have walking meetings.  If you can’t walk for the meeting, try standing in the newsroom or studio.  Standing is always healthier than sitting.

I don’t know what your New Year’s resolution is, but mine is to get off my “you know what.”  Want to join me?

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Derek Chappell January 8, 2013, 9:51 am

    Great story and advice Ann. I wrote a blog and shared an interesting infographic on how sitting is killing us a couple years back. http://thevoiceofyourbusiness.com/blog/2011/08/19/get-off-your-ass-or-kiss-it-goodbye/


  • Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. January 8, 2013, 12:58 pm

    Thanks so much, Derek! I really like your blog post on this. I hope readers will click and read it, too. The more we know about the effects of moving the better off we’ll all be!

  • Marc Scott January 9, 2013, 9:58 am

    Great advice, as always, Ann. Working in voice over, it’s really easy to spend hours on end sitting at the computer auditioning, recording, editing, etc, and not even realize it. So it’s a great reminder to get off our butts from time to time.

    I really like the alarm idea. I think I may start using that one myself.

  • Ann S. Utterback January 9, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Marc–You are so right about the demands of voiceover work. There’s a lot of sitting involved! Let me know how the alarm works for you. It’s always great to get up and stretch!

  • Catherine O'Brien June 21, 2013, 8:13 am

    Great advice, thank you. I have a history of back problems and the last thing I need is to sit down all day. I have all my gear in my studio on a draftsman’s – very high – desk, so I can not only stand up to record, but also do my editing standing up too.

  • Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. June 21, 2013, 2:43 pm

    That is such a great way to do voicing! You’re able to breathe better standing, and many people feel more expressive standing. Thanks for your comment.

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