A Modern Day Desk Sentence

Are you sitting comfortably? You might not be after reading this.

A recent study finds that American’s spend 56 hours a week sitting: staring at the computer screen, in the car, or collapsed in a heap in front of the television.  Add in another seven hours per day sleeping and that means most of us spend just one third of our time on our feet. Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move.  But thanks to advances in technology, the Internet, and an increasingly longer work week, that environment has disappeared. You can shop, pay bills, make a living, and with Facebook and Twitter, even catch up with friends without so much as standing up.

All this downtime is so unhealthy that it’s given birth to a new area of medical study which explores the effects of our increasingly butt-bound, tech-driven lives, as well as a deadly new epidemic researchers have dubbed “sitting disease.”  Researchers found that sitting for 11 or more hours a day increased risk of death by 40 percent, regardless of other activity levels. Sitting is killing us – literally – by way of raising our risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And the risk increased with each two-hour period of sitting time. Want more bad news? Even if you exercise an hour each day, that hour does not counteract the sitting.

But wait, before you roll your task chair to the trash, there is some good news. There are simple ways you can offset all that sitting. Get up at least once every hour (or even better, half hour) and move! The key is to stay active and mobile, even if you are corralled in an office. All it takes is a 10-minute exercise break throughout the day. This includes easy options like taking the long way to the printer, meandering over to a coworker’s desk instead of calling or emailing and taking the stairs whenever possible.

Sit to Stand desks are also becoming increasing popular and keep employees on their feet, instead of planted in their chairs (see our previous blog, Standing up on the job, worth the hype?). Even if your office doesn’t have this type of desk, get on your feet to work. Stand while taking a phone call or when reading emails. If possible, opt for a treadmill desk, which uses a special treadmill that provides a slow pace so people are walking as they work. Also, consider swapping your chair for an hour or two a day for a large stability ball which will require your body to engage core muscles to maintain proper posture.

The solution is simple but the effects are profound. In addition to the possible increase in life expectancy, you may lose a few pounds and reduce stress. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t welcome that!

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog, Workplace Wellness, with more tips for staying healthy at the office!

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