desk / Health / incidental exercise / office / sitting / standing / work

Sitting: more dangerous than smoking?

sitting = smoking?

As a health conscious person, I consistently look for ways to change my behaviour or eating habits to achieve optimal health.

A couple of years ago – when I was an office worker, I came across several articles about the negative impacts and health risks of sitting for long periods. Consider the 8 hour work day and add to that the commute to and from work and you are likely to be pushing 9 hours.  Sitting for long periods day in, day out could be as much of a health risk as smoking1.  Even if you exercise before or after work to compensate – this is not enough to counteract the effects sitting all day2,6,7.  The risk of diabetes3,6 and heart disease4 reduces when you break up long periods of sitting.  Increased risk of bowel cancer has also been associated with long term desk jobs5,6.

So I decided that instead of staying seated at my desk, I would modify my workstation to facilitate standing instead.

I moved my computer monitor onto a shelf at eye level and my keyboard onto a box so it sat at elbow height.  I also brought in a gym ball from home and kept it under my desk to sit on when I felt like a break from standing, and of course my original seat was also there for when I needed to relax.

I found that just by standing, I would inadvertently move around a lot more during the day.  Though I was seen as rather strange, I was doing what was best for my health and in future – I believe it will become the norm.

The next best thing to a stand up workstation or desk is to stand up as often as possible and stretch / move around / walk a little.  You should also incorporate incidental exercise by taking the stairs, parking your car further away and purposely finding ways to move more throughout your day (for example, going to fill a glass of water up several times throughout the day).

I have listed news articles below referring to the health risks of sitting for long periods and most cite university research which has studied the impact.

1. http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/workers-shouldnt-stand-for-long-sitting-sessions-20130602-2njok.html

2.  http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/desk-jobs-a-killer-study-20110929-1kygk.html

3.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-29/standing-up-from-desk-helps-avoid-diabetes/3859254

4.  http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/worklife/swapping-between-sitting-and-standing-at-desks-is-good-for-heart-health/story-fn7j1dox-1226641551262

5. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-05-13/desk-jockeys-at-double-risk-of-bowel-cancer-study/2714854

6. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-08-03/health-problems-caused-by-sitting-too-long/1377532

7.  http://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2010/02/25/2829781.htm#.Ua2wE2TOly8

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