I love coffee. In college and graduate school I drank a lot of coffee. My husband even roasts his own: Dave’s Roast – The Cure for Common Coffee. But sitting around in coffee shops ingesting caffeine and calories I don’t need isn’t particularly good for my health.

A Harvard Business Review blog about the health risks of sitting caught my attention. Most people sit more than we do anything else (she noted while sitting at the computer)–including sleeping. At work, in the car, on the computer, in front of the T.V., while eating or socializing over coffee or a drink–the author suggests that sitting is the smoking of our generation.

Many health risks are associated with excess sitting including: increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. It also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In light of the potential lethality of excess sitting, James Levine (an M.D. and researcher at the Mayo Clinic) advocates we shift away from a “chair-based lifestyle” by finding alternatives wherever we can. These included taking regular stretch and stand breaks if you must be seated, standing while on phone calls, adjusting your work station to a counter height so you can stand, or even creating or buying a treadmill desk.

The blog author schedules four walking meetings into her work week. She reports many personal and professional benefits, including adding 20-30 miles of activity to her week.

My contribution: walking is the new coffee. Instead of spending money and ingesting calories and caffeine I don’t need anyway, I’m going to start suggesting a gentle walk instead.

Who’s on board?

Dr. Levine’s campaign against a chair-based lifestyle goes beyond physical health: “Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day,” he said. “The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.”

Let’s rise up and do this!

What will be your creative alternative?

How might you get out of your chair and into motion this week?

Set a timer on your computer to alert you to get out of the chair every hour and do something active. It doesn’t need to be much.

Your body and soul will be better off if you do!