Trailblazing Thursdays: “Sitting Is Killing You” . . . And What to Do About It

credit: Instagram @olmstead_j

credit: Instagram @olmstead_j

Near the end of last year we shared an informative infographic on the dangers of sitting. The essence of the picture is captured in this poignant sentence: People who sit for most of their day are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack.

More and more experts agree that sitting all day, every day can be detrimental to one’s health, even for those who exercise regularly. But what can you do about it? Many people aren’t able to control their work environment, especially when the majority of the office doesn’t share the same health priorities. It would be extremely awkward to be the only one standing in a sea full of sitters. Even worse, the office administration might not be receptive to the expense of a standing desk.

Those who work at home or have the ability to stand all day should also take heed: don’t let the phrase “Sitting is Killing You” scare you into other unhealthy habits. According to Men’s Health, standing for hours and hours on end can lead to musculoskeletal disorders in the legs, knees, and lower back. It’s recommended that you stand as long as it feels comfortable. Taking a seat after that won’t kill you – in fact, it might just make you healthier. Multiple sources suggest splitting standing and sitting time 50:50.

At Home

If you work mostly from home, there’s little excuse for why you can’t incorporate some quality standing time. Here are some suggestions:

  • photo-6Standing Desks – It may sound daunting (read: expensive), but standing desks are quite simple. For example, a certain WellnessFX blogger is writing this post from home and uses two stools stacked on top of each other as a standing desk.
  • Treadmill Desks – This option is a little more advanced (and a lot more expensive), but some claim that walking while working increases their productivity. Ben Greenfield put together a useful blog post about how to make your own treadmill desk without the extravagant costs. Check it out here.
  • Redecorating – Can you fetch something from your printer without having to get up? Is the farthest essential in your office just an arm’s reach away? If so, try spreading out your office space a little so that you actually have to move.

At The Office

If you’re stuck at the office and don’t have much control over your spatial arrangements, follow these tips:

  • slide_240327_1265501_freeStand once or twice every hour – It doesn’t matter what it’s for. Whether it’s a quick stretch or a trip to the fridge for some coconut water, standing periodically can significantly reduce the effects of prolonged muscle disuse.
  • Take all calls on a cell phone – Make it a habit to step outside or walk to a quiet corner when taking your calls.
  • Stretch – While standing desks might be a little unorthodox, no one’s going to care if you get up and loosen your muscles every once and a while. They might even join you. Now that’s a beautiful thing!
  • Use an exercise ball – The main problem with sitting for long periods is the extremely low amount of muscle use. Using an exercise ball in place of the traditional chair engages ab and back muscles so sitting becomes less of a problem. Your balance will improve, too!
  • Office Yoga – Check out this article for a unique way of staying active in the office.

Every little bit helps. Keep the following in mind to constantly make sure you’re not slipping into a sedentary hole:

  • Take the stairs whenever you can
  • When you have to print something, choose a printer that’s on the other side of the office.
  • Get rid of the stiff fits. Studies show that wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is correlated with higher levels of movement during the day.
  • When you need to talk to someone else in the office, walk over there instead of calling or emailing.

Gadgets

And, of course, a little technology can go a long way. Check out these apps to help achieve your standing goals:

  • StandApp promotes healthy living by providing an alarm reminder to stand up and take a break from your desk.

  • RunKeeper will help you to keep track of how your short walks around the office (or during the day in general) add up. You can set small goals for yourself and really get motivation to keep moving!
  • FitBit tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, and stairs climbed.

As you can see, it’s not the end of the world if you have to spend eight or more hours a day at your desk. When it’s all said and done, your health is important, so prioritize it!

We’d like to hear how you stay active. Tell us below!

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.