You would be forgiven for thinking it was the evil photocopier (you know the one that eats all the documents), and not your chair, but research has shown that sitting all day is a significant risk to your health. With prolonged sitting there is an association with an increased mortality, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions such as metabolic syndromes (increased waist circumference and BMI).
Sitting for 6 + hours a day makes you 40% likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than 3.
Even if you exercise.
That’s right, even if you run 5 times per week, and do everything else right, the time that you spend sitting, is undoing all your good work.
Here’s another statistic: obese people sit for 2.5 more hours per day more than thin people.
But how can we change this if this is part of our job?
The human body isn’t designed to stay still for prolonged periods of time (that’s why we get achy, and develop a numb bottom if we have been in one place for too long. This is our body’s way of encouraging us to move!)
Some suggestions to overcome the issues associated with prolonged sitting at work include the introduction of standing desks, walking meetings, walking to colleagues office to ask them a question face to face instead of sending emails (this also has social benefits as well). Additional options that have shown physiological benefits such as cycling desks or treadmill desks, have some negative impact on work output, so may be more difficult to implement.
Even though standing desks are a great alternative, as with everything moderation is the key as their use is not without negative outcomes if used for prolonged periods without a rest. These negative outcomes could be in the form of low back pain, vascular pooling in lower extremities, and standing related fatigue.
So, what is the take home message? Listen to your body, change you position regularly, and stand up when you can.