Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
Is your chair bad for your health? Worse yet, do you lounge around while working on your laptop? Prolonged sitting has frequently been shown to be an independent risk factor for chronic disease, even if you are working out consistently. Sitting can thwart your efforts for longevity. Unfortunately, the damage caused by hours of daily sitting cannot be reversed by an hour or so of exercise.
I know you have heard that sitting is the new smoking for the past several years. That is because according to research sitting for a significant portion of your day has a mortality rate that rivals smoking. Not only does too much sitting increase the risk of lung cancer, but uterine and colon cancer, and virtually all other health problems as well.
Also if you don't exercise at all the risks increase even more!
[Tweet “Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of cardiovascular disease about the same as smoking.”]
Thankfully the solution is simple! Stand up more and sit down less. You can achieve this even at work if you can convert your desk into a stand-up desk or even purchase an adjustable height desk such as the ones my husband and I use. In addition, I use an anti-fatigue mat to stand on. The specific mat I use is by Varidesk and has a ball rolling area in the middle which really helps my feet!
We do sit sometimes. I sit when I eat meals and when we watch our nightly k-drama. The rest of the day I am standing or moving about. Using a chair without arms is best when sitting as it improves your posture. My husband has an adjustable chair nearby his work desk for sitting down when necessary. He doesn't sit down as much as I do but he has to commute so he's sitting down an hour both ways. If you commute you should factor that time in for how much you spend sitting each day.
Years ago, I turned my treadmill into a desk by just placing a wood plank across the arm grips. I then put my laptop on top of the board, and then I walked at a very slow pace while I typed away! Since I already had the treadmill the conversion only cost me the price of the board, but you can buy a treadmill desk as well.
Experts recommend standing up at least 50 minutes out of every hour. So take the first step towards living a healthier lifestyle by standing up as much as you can. Once you grow accustomed to standing up for a bigger portion of your day, you will find yourself more eager to move your body and exercise too.
If your goal is to achieve superior health, then you want to spend less time sitting. When I am working at my desk, I often walk in place while using the computer. Then if I am reading or teaching, I will pace back and forth.
Working in an office will make it harder to stand up more and sit down less. Here are some suggestions to help you stand up and get more movement at work:
- Try setting a timer for 20 minutes if you are sitting and stand up to move your body, even if you just do some stretching or squats.
- Need to deliver a message to a coworker? Get up and walk to their office instead of sending an email or using the phone
- Take the stairs when you can and avoid the elevator.
- Move filing cabinets and other items in your office, so you will need to stand up to retrieve them instead of having everything within easy reach.
- Have walk-meetings if possible.
Have you ever noticed that kids naturally tend to stand while playing? Even though my younger kids have chairs or stools they tend to stand most of the time they are playing Legos.
After years of being forced to sit at school desks, the tendency to stand up is lost and replaced by the habit of sitting all day. That is why it's important to support programs and schools that are transitioning to desks that give children the option to stand up or sit down. Sitting down all day tends to promote bad posture.
Also, read Exercise You Can Do While Sitting.
Do you sit or stand to work and how does it make you feel? If you want to really study up on this subject, I recommend the book Deskbound Sitting is the new Smoking by Dr. Kelly Starrett.