Last week, Tim Cook of Apple stated that “a lot of doctors think that sitting is the new cancer.” He made this point in an effort to drum up demand for the (as of yet not shipping) Apple Watch, and his hyperbolic comment has drawn a lot of criticism in the media. His point was that with an Apple Watch, you can set a reminder to get up and move once every hour.
Is his warning about the health dangers of sitting warranted? The Guardian has an excellent article that pulls together a lot of the research on the subject. For example, one review looked at the results of 47 different studies, and concluded that too much physical inactivity (such as sitting) increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. Also, the World Health Organization lists lack of physical activity as the fourth most common cause of death worldwide, behind high blood pressure, tobacco use, and high blood sugar.
Is this enough to equate sitting with cancer? Probably not, according to the Guardian. A more apt comparison would be “sitting is the new smoking,” as both are the direct result of choices by the individual. (Cancer is not a choice.) The health risk is serious all the same, but the next question is whether or not you need to spend about $350 on a wristwatch to tell you to get up and move? A $7 kitchen timer will do the same thing, or for that matter, chances are good that your smartphone already has an app that will do this at no extra cost. Or as the Guardian article suggests, switch to a standing desk and you won’t need a timer at all.
Wearable Health Tech devices have the potential to solve or improve all sorts of health and medical problems, but many times a simpler solution can be just as effective. Sometimes it can be even better.