Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine, M.D., Ph.D. has coined a new term for the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle: sitting disease. This affliction raises your risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease and other health problems, and it affects gym rats, smokers and healthy eaters equally.
In a post for MayoClinic.com, Dr. Levine had this to say about the dangers of sitting:
In one study, adults who spent more than four hours a day sitting in front of the television had an 80 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared with adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV. This risk was independent of other risk factors such as smoking or diet.
How Can Office Workers Fight Sitting Disease?
The solution, says Dr. Levine, is simply sitting less and moving more. "By standing, you burn three times as many calories as you do sitting," he explained. "Muscle contractions, including the ones required for standing, seem to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars. When you sit down, muscle contractions cease and these processes stall.
Here are five ideas I have to get moving while working.
- Hold standing meetings. The mere act of standing gives meeting attendees a strong motive to stay on-topic and focused.
- Get up every 30 to 60 minutes and walk around. I do this anyway to clear my head. (Bonus points if you head up and down a flight of stairs each time you get up!)
- Invest in a standing desk or treadmill desk, or ask your employer to do so. You might get a few awkward stares at the office, but in this case, health trumps image.
- At home, do mundane tasks standing up. It's tempting to sit down while paying bills, folding laundry or checking your email, but standing helps your body stay active.
- Swap your cushy desk chair for a stability ball or less-comfortable desk chair. These seat options discourage you from staying put for extended periods, which gives you just enough incentive to get up regularly.