Lately I’ve been reading multiple articles about how sitting all day (at work, for instance) is bad for your health, so I wanted to link to various articles discussing the issue.
Two New York Times articles cover the issue pretty thoroughly, with links to recent scholarly articles supporting the claims made:
- “Stand Up While You Read This!” by Olivia Judson, February 23, 2010
- “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?” by James Vlahos, April 14, 2011
The main concern (for me, at least) is that regular exercise doesn’t make up for sitting all day—people who spend six or more hours sitting have higher rates of death (20% for men and 40% for women) over those who spend three hours a day sitting, regardless of exercise (or any other factor) (2). In fact, the risk of death increases 11% for every additional hour of television watched (while sitting)!
For those of us that work at a desk all day, it would seem this fate is hard to avoid. However, there are a few solutions:
- Standing/walking desk. I’ve seen plenty of articles (particularly on BoingBoing and Lifehacker) showing examples of standing or walking desks, and instructions on how to make your own. I’m planning on setting one up in my home office when I’m back from my summer research internship.
- Taking breaks to walk around or even just stand up and stretch every 10-15 minutes or so. It’s probably a good idea to do this anyway especially if you are staring at a computer screen all day.
- Fidget. Even simple movements like bouncing your leg while sitting is better than not moving at all.
EDIT: Immediately after posting this, I came across this great Instructable for a standing/walking desk: http://www.instructables.com/id/Fancy-Ikea-Treadmill-Desk/. It’s based on an Ikea desk, and shows how you can integrate a small treadmill.
Below is a nifty infographic that summarizes why sitting all day is so bad as well as some easy fixes: