People who sit in a chair all day have an increased risk for at least 35 chronic diseases and health conditions, from diabetes and osteoporosis to cancer.
I recently heard that sitting is the new smoking. This phrase was coined by Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk. Levine has been studying for years the adverse effects of American’s increasingly sedentary lifestyles — from sitting in the car on long daily commutes to sitting in an office chair all day and then returning home to sit on the couch watching television all evening.
More than one-half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television or working at a computer,” Dr. David Alter, that study’s senior author and a scientist at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto.
The reason why sitting is compared to smoking is because like smoking, the effects of long-term sitting are not reversible through exercise or other good habits reported Levine. The only way to minimize the risk is to limit the time spent sitting each day.
A good guideline from Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University is “for every half hour of office work, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes, then move around and stretch for two minutes.” The key is to neither sit nor stand for long periods of time and instead break up activity throughout the day.
I am a sitter. You will find me most days sitting at my desk doing my blog and other social media work. A few months ago, I noticed how my legs would start aching after long periods of sitting and it would take a considerable amount of time lying down to get my legs to feel “normal” again. I tried to get up and move, change positions of my feet, and stretching to be able to sit comfortably for long periods of time at my desk. But even with my conscientious efforts, I knew I wasn’t spending enough time moving around.
Then, within a couple of weeks this summer, I found out that a few friends and a son-in-law all had stand up desks in their offices. They all touted how much better they feel changing up their day between sitting and standing at their desk. About this same time, I came across an article on the benefits of standing desks that included better concentration and brain function, improved circulation and blood flow (no thrombosis), and burn more calories. I was convinced: If I was to continue with my desk job, using a stand up desk was vital for my health and well-being.
I knew I didn’t want to buy a whole new desk because I have a desk arrangement that works for me. Also, I wasn’t looking to upgrade my computer. I have a laptop that works just as well at home and as it does on the road. I researched what was out there and found exactly what I needed with Varidesk . Their Laptop 30 fits right on top of my existing desk, is easy to change from a standing to sitting position, and is durable – all for a reasonable price. I also purchased Varidesk’s standing mat to help with any possible posture or fatigue issues I might encounter.
When I first started using the standing desk, I was standing a bit longer than recommended. Even with the standing mat, my back and legs were really aching. To help me remember to change more frequently between sitting and standing, I downloaded Varidesk’s app. The built in alarm reminds me when to change positions. Ever since I started using the app, those aches went away and standing became more comfortable and natural.
I have never smoked because I grew up hearing all the health dangers that smoking causes. I’m not about to start having “smoking like” issues from sitting too long each day. I am really glad I got a stand up desk and am relieved knowing I am avoiding the health risks – including early death – that prolonged sitting brings.
Have you tried a stand up desk?