The Regional Municipality of Durham

News Release

Health Department launches "sitting is the new smoking" campaign

WHITBY, ON April 27, 2015

Durham Region Health Department will mark Screen Free Week, May 4 to 10, by promoting the theme “sitting is the new smoking” and encouraging area residents to reduce time spent sitting every day.

The term “sitting is the new smoking” was first coined by Marc Hamilton, Professor of Inactivity Physiology at the University of Louisiana. Sitting is considered sedentary time and being sedentary is linked to long-term harmful health effects similar to that of smoking. These harmful effects include: premature death, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers and mental health problems.

“Attitudes towards smoking in the 1970s were similar to attitudes toward sitting now – a lot of people are sitting more and sitting everywhere,” explained Lindsey Partridge, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “We are slowly becoming more aware about the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time.” Some of the behaviours related to sitting that can lead to negative health effects can include: time spent sitting at desk jobs, commuting, reading and screen time activities, which could be watching TV, time on the computer, playing video games.

“For many, sitting for prolonged periods of time is unavoidable; but it’s important to be physically active, stand when you can and break up your sitting by getting up every 30 minutes to help counter the damaging health effects,” said Ms. Partridge.

Some ideas to interrupt your sitting include: standing while talking on the phone or during a meeting, walking to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing them, or standing to fold laundry while watching TV.

“You can also set a movement alarm or download a break app on your mobile phone to remind you to get up and stretch,” added Ms. Partridge. “Breaking up sitting time throughout the day can help to improve your physical health, boost your energy, refocus your mind and may also help improve memory.”

For more information about Screen Free Week, visit For information about sedentary time and tips to reduce sitting, call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.

Media inquiries:

The Regional Municipality of Durham:

Glendene Collins – Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999

If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.

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For more information, please contact Health Department.