Recent Posts
Featured Posts

Taking a Stand: Sitting Too Much May Sabotage Your Health

While all meetings are different, one trait they share in common is that attendees often spend a lot of time seated. Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist who has done extensive research on the dangers of inactivity, believes sitting is the new smoking. After three decades of work funded by the National Institutes of Health, Levine has concluded that excessive sitting is responsible for many chronic health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as premature death. Overall, we have become a seated society. “More than one-half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary—sitting, watching television or working at a computer,” says Dr. David Alter, a cardiologist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute who published a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine decrying the negative health effects of prolonged sitting. The American Osteopathic Association estimates that more than 70 percent of office workers spend close to six hours per day glued to their chairs. Why is Sitting So Bad? According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), prolonged sitting:

  • Shortens the hip flexor muscles and limits the ability of the hip to extend, placing extra pressure on the lumbar spine.

  • Makes you overweight; those who spend more than six hours per day seated are 2.5 times more likely to be obese.

  • Causes tightness in the upper back and shoulders, and reduces oxygen flow to the lungs, especially when sitters slump.

  • Elevates low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) and increases the risk of high blood pressure.

  • Lowers metabolism, increases free fatty acids and raises the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

ACE is taking a stand against sitting. It suggests that trimming sitting to less than three hours per day could give the average American an additional two years of life expectancy. Strategies for Sitters If you work in a corporate office where your derriere must be in a chair for a considerable period of time each day, try the following:

  • Set a timer to regularly stand and move around.

  • Schedule an office-wide stretching break.

  • Stand when making phone calls and reading paperwork.

  • If you have a question for a co-worker, stroll over to ask it in person rather than sending an email or making a phone call.

  • If the office building has stairs, opt for them instead of the elevator.

  • Send work to the printer that is farthest from your desk.

  • When conferring with a small group, suggest a walking meeting outdoors.

Standing Desks Standing and treadmill desks have been touted as a viable solution for workers who sit too much. Although researc