Are you sitting too much? What’s “too much”? Interestingly, many groups not traditionally associated with actually improving health have done studies on this subject. These include the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Journal of Epidemiology, American Cancer Society, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and Mayo Clinic Doctors.
- At their 2013 annual meeting, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting, such as sit-stand workstations.
- A 2011 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that when workers are equipped with sit-stand workstations, prolonged sitting is reduced and productivity/wellbeing improve.
- A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that people who sit for long periods during their leisure time have an increased risk of disease.
- An American Cancer Society study of 120,000 adults, published in 2010, suggests that the more people sit, the shorter their average life span. What’s more, the findings were independent of physical activity level such as with people who exercise outside of work.
- Excessive sitting impacts our body’s metabolic system: “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named “sitting disease.” ~ James Levine, MD, PhD
- Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” ~ Dr. Martha Grogan, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic
- Combating sitting disease with added gym-time may not work: most people don’t have time for MORE exercise, and more exercise time may not even reverse sitting disease.
Scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana analyzed the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years, and found that people who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks
- More than 90,000 new cancer cases a year in the United States may be due to physical inactivity and prolonged periods of sitting
There are many benefits to a standing desk. It improves your ergonomics, your health, your focus, your mood, and your productivity.
1. Decide you’re going to improve your quality of life by sitting less and standing more.
2. If you have a sedentary job – figure out something simple and effective about it and begin doing so.
3. Change your workspace! Here’s an instant (though not particularly beautiful) modification that will cost you nothing and takes less than 2 minutes to perform: (Hint: in this case we used boxes, but often books or appropriately sized storage crates are used.) Tables that are meant to sit on your desk to do the same thing can be purchased as well.
Now you can stand at your desk. Because standing 100% of the time isn’t realistic, having a stool to lean on or sit on will allow you to become more comfortable standing for longer periods.
4. Any one position gets tiresome. Put an object (like an old phone-book) on the floor and place one foot on it while the others on the floor.
5. Whether or not you change your desk setup right away or not, you can do these immediately. (Yes. Right Now!) Rotate your body left and right repeatedly through it’s entire range of motion. Lean all the way left, then right. Do these things until your muscles feel warm. This means you’re increasing your circulation. (And you already know that even light exertion can initiate your body’s production of beneficial hormones/endorphins, right?) March in place. Bring your knees up high on purpose some of the time. lean forward and let gravity bring your fingers towards your toes. Look all the way up while leaning backward so your entire spines extends like a cat (as much as you can!) Hold this stretch longer because it counteracts most of our activities of daily living. Repeat as often as you like. Bend a knee so that your foot extends up towards your buttocks for a moment or so, then the other one. Move your arms in varied ways to keep the circulation in your upper body going. Purposefully breathe very deeply and slowly for a spell. Repeat as often as you like.
Standing desks are becoming more popular and have endless configurations.
This high-end desk allows you to sit or stand in style. Sit-to-Walkstation Treadmill Desk
Another option is the Veridesk seen at www.veridesk.com
As usual here, reminding you that being more active is an essential part of improving your posture and being more healthy.
Dr. Stan Gale