Is sitting the new smoking?

In recent months I have been reading on Natural News and elsewhere two different health tips:

  • One should walk 10,000 steps per day
  • One should not sit for long periods – either get up at least once every 20 minutes or so, or just stand and do what you would normally do sitting – using the computer, working in the office etc.

Then, last night I heard an interview podcast with Dr. Joseph Mercola on Red Ice Radio, who also discussed the same topics.

From this article on what 10 everyday items to throw out, Dr. Mercola lists your chair as No. 10:

“While I placed this last, mounting research clearly reveals that your chair may actually be one of the most dangerous items to have around for your health. Prolonged sitting has repeatedly been shown to be an independent risk factor for chronic disease and early demise, even if you exercise regularly and are very fit. That’s right; exercise cannot undo the damage caused by hours of daily sitting, just like it cannot undo the harm done by smoking.  

Along with obesity, sitting is the new smoking, increasing your risk for lung cancer by more 50 percent.20 Who would have guessed that sitting is far more dangerous than second hand smoke? Sitting has been found to increase your risk of death from virtually all health problems,21,22 from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to cancer and all-cause mortality. And, the less you exercise, the more pronounced the detrimental effects of sitting.  

What’s the solution?

Stand up as much as possible. A standing desk is one option. Barring that, make sure you stand up at regular intervals during work hours. For a number of other tips and tricks, see my previous article, “Tips for Staying Active in the Office.” As a general rule, if you’ve been sitting for one hour, you’ve sat too long. At bare minimum, avoid sitting for more than 50 minutes out of every hour. If you don’t already have a fitness tracker, it may be money well spent to get one. I recommend aiming for 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day, over and above any exercise regimen you may have. I was probably doing 2,000 steps a day prior to using a fitness tracker, and now I am up to about 15,000 steps a day or about eight miles.

For many, simply getting and staying out of your chair is a first step that can bring you closer to a healthier lifestyle. As you become more used to low level, non-exercise activity, you’re more likely to get motivated enough to start exercising more vigorously. “

To this end I installed an Android app called Runtastic, which counts how many steps you make.  Limitations are that the free version will only allow one session per day, so if the phone restarts you lose what you have counted so far, but cannot start again to the next day.  After monitoring myself for a week, I find I do about 7,000 steps per day if I go for a walk somewhere.  Dr. Mercola says 7,000 is enough actually.

And, apart from driving, or watching a film, I do try to stand.  If my legs or feet get tired I sit for a short while, and then get up again.  I’m not sure  how to judge if this is good for me. So, after a week or two I notice no difference – but I feel virtuous.  As I write this today at 10PM, I have done just over 10,000 steps and 7.2 KM since I remembered to turn on the app about 10AM. So in reality probably over 11,000 steps.




for that late autumn feeling in Penang…

If you would like a bit of that late autumn feeling in Penang, although admittedly rather too warm for autumn and it’s February, head over to the small river near Sussex House.  Cross the river on the bridge from the Sussex House car park…

1-2015-02-07 15.48.36 (Copy)

the bridge you cross

… and you can wander among the bare deciduous trees with their fallen  leaves underfoot.

desciduous trees

deciduous trees

crunchy fallen leaves

crunchy fallen leaves

desciduous trees

deciduous trees

warm "autumnish" sunshine

warm “autumnish” sunshine

warm "autumnish" sunshine

warm “autumnish” sunshine

unfinished blogs – no. 11 – What health ideas have worked for me and what haven’t

I’ve been writing this blog for three years this month, and have accumulated many partially written blogs that remain unpublished. I may as well just publish them as is, and if I ever feel inspired to finish any, do so later.


June 26th, 2013

Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.  This article is about what works for me.

fasting –
cupping –
PLR, acupuncture, reiki –
colloidal silver –
sun gazing –

oil pulling –




Keeping happy and healthy in the tropics

Recently Tropical Expat had another birthday, and entered a new decade.  I am told I am not older – just more mature.  But I actually feel physically and mentally  better than I have for many years.  And that’s not to say I wasn’t feeling good previously – before I was feeling good, anyway.

So, what am I doing? I mostly eat healthily, drink moderately, exercise, meditate, sleep well, get sunshine on my body most days, do oil pulling first thing in the morning, study (German) to keep my mind active, read a variety of material from magazines to novels to non-fiction, watch some films, minimise stress, socialise, fast occasionally…

What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another, and what is effective at one stage of one’s life, isn’t necessarily effective at another.


I more or less eat a Paleo diet, with small infractions occasionally (such as a small plate of potato crisps once a month or so).  The pleasure one gains from small infractions far outweighs the minimal damage, and total denial of what you like is not a positive thing.  I even had ice cream about six times this year.

Mostly I try only to eat when I am hungry, and drink a glass or two of water beforehand.

Tropical fruit is great, but I limit the amount, and vary the variety; and I eat it with cream, with protects my teeth and body from the sugar.  That’s what I tend to eat in the morning.

Later in the day I may have some cheese, or some leftovers.  And at dinner vegetables, or sometimes a salad, with some cooked meat, fish or chicken, and plenty of butter or other healthy fat.  Occasionally an omelette.


I try to drink a couple of glasses of water after waking, a glass  before sleeping and before meals, and some throughout the day.  Without forcing myself. But you really do need to drink enough water in the tropics. Water is first filtered by the house filter, then the kitchen filter, and then energised by the sun for a couple of hours.

At least one glass of wine or beer or something a day is good for you, I believe, without overdoing it.


I swim and spend a short time in the gym about three times a week, and on other days try to take a short walk.  I would like to cycle, but in Penang it is too dangerous. While at the gym I use the sauna.


I am rubbish at meditating, but hope one day to become better.  A few minutes first thing in the morning is all that I manage.


I sleep as much as I need, which is about eight hours a night, or if less, then a daytime nap. Although I have more than enough things to do, getting enough sleep is a priority.


I have never believed that sunshine is bad for you and that one must cover one’s skin with sun lotion or avoid the sun.  Your skin is your body’s biggest organ, and sun lotions are chemical cocktails.  It would not surprise me that these chemicals cause skin cancer. Sunshine allows your body to make Vitamin D, which is very necessary. In the tropics you should be able to get enough sun throughout the year.  I just don’t overdo it and get burnt.  And that’s all one needs to do.

If you are going out in the sun for a while, you have to be aware of heat exhaustion.  If I walk when it is hot, I wear a hat, drink water, and if I start to feel overheated I find a cool place to rest.  A bank, a store etc. works, as does some tree shade.


The first thing I do in the morning is oil pulling. This helps remove toxins from my body and helps protect and repair teeth and gums.  From 10 to 20 minutes is enough, and I do other things at the same time.


One should keep one’s mind active.  When working one does anyway. When retired there are many ways of doing this. I like to study languages. “On average, elderly bilinguals will show symptoms of dementia five years later than monolinguals, and if they’ve learned more than two languages, then the effects are even stronger, ” which I just read in a book on studying languages.


Reading also keeps the mind active, and I have so many books I want to read that I doubt I will ever get through them all.  I borrow books from the library and read ebooks.


One of the great things in Penang is that the cinema is very affordable, also gives a discount to over-55’s, costs RM1 to park at for up to 3 hours, and is not crowded weekdays. It’s nice to watch the latest films.


Stress is a major killer, and when working, hard to avoid.  Of course, not all stress is bad. Keeping life interesting gives you good stress.  Being retired gives minimal stress.  The most stressful thing in Penang is driving.  I try to avoid busy times to minimise this.


It’s good to socialise sometimes – in person and over the Internet.


I feel good too, because I am keeping my weight down. Being in the tropics means that one’s body retains more water than in temperate climes, which elevates the weight and increases flabbiness a bit.  Should my weight increase I just don’t eat until my weight has decreased to my maximum target weight.  Two or three times a year I fast, which eliminates toxins, and knocks off some weight.

This is what I do. It works for me.




Recovery from seasonal illness

Tropical Expat has been laid low for almost a month with some sort of flu, caught possibly while travelling on the trains in Malaysia.  As usual I waited for it to go away, with no treatment, but it didn’t. The fever did, but occasionally came back for a few hours after a few days. This blog is about how I treated it, and recovered.

As an aside,  I have thus been unable to research material for writing blogs, as I have been at home except for grocery shopping, and cancelled all social engagements and outings.


  • a great amount of dry coughing
  • light fever occasionally
  • no natural recovery over time


Around 4th October I had a headache, light fever, and coughing, but I “recovered” the next day, only to have it return with a vengeance about three days later.  A few days later I “recovered” again, and then it soon returned, and stayed, so by Thursday 11th October the coughing was quite bad.  I still expected to recover naturally, so did no treatment.  The following Thursday 18th I was coughing so badly that the coughing caused back damage, and from then on any coughing was painful.

As a result on Monday 22nd I finally went to the hospital, as described in an earlier blog of mine.

The general idea from both doctors I saw was to treat and cure the cough, and thus the cause of continual back pain will be removed and the back will be able to recover. I was prescribed these medicines (on the left side) for the cough.

so many medicines!!!

Klacid MR – Clarithromycin – obviously an antibiotic – one a day for five days

Mucosolvon – Ambroxol – one tablet three times a day for one week

Fluimucil – Acetylcysteine – one tablet once a day for one week

A cough syrup – three times a day for a week


I took the medicines as prescribed, and a week later I was feeling a little better.  But from then I was on my own, as I didn’t see much point returning to the doctor, and didn’t notice any dramatic results from the medicines.

I did all the following, so I can’t say which were the most effective, but in combination they seemed to help:

  • fasting or light eating – mainly fruit.  This meant my body spent less energy on digestion, and more on healing. As I was using little energy staying at home, I hardly needed much food.
  • sunshine for at least 10 minutes a day
  • using the nebuliser with colloidal silver several times a day. I couldn’t inhale deeply as this caused coughing fits, which caused my back much pain, but gradually as my lungs cleared up I could inhale more deeply, which would make it more effective, too.  For more on colloidal silver see here and here and here.  Colloidal silver is a natural anti-biotic, and after I used it my lungs cleared out some stuff, so it felt effective.  I bought the Omron nebuliser in Gurney Plaza, in a shop near Cold Storage.


  • Oil pulling – which removes toxins from your mouth, and thus your body, so gives your immune system more chance to heal you.  I use coconut oil, and generally did it once a day until I was recovering well, when I increased the frequency to twice or three times a day.
  • Reiki. Being a Reiki master myself, naturally I did this on myself.
  • Ginko nuts – bought at Pulau Tikus market – are good for coughs.
  • Persimmon – bought at Pulau Tikus market – are also good for coughs.
  • I tried to sleep when possible, but it was painful for me to lie down, so unfortunately I couldn’t sleep well or as much as I wanted.
  • Coughing was least painful when I sat down in an average height solid chair. Lying down or standing up, or sitting on a soft sofa or a mattress was much more painful, thus causing more damage to my back.  I had to rush to a chair when I was about to cough.

So in the five days since I finished the medicines and used the above treatments on myself I have experienced a strong recovery, with my lungs clearing out, and being able to inhale much more deeply.