The average American is only active for three hours a day. That means the other 21 hours are spent on sedentary behavior, which can have some troubling side effects including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The majority of us spend our work day sitting at a desk, which makes it harder for us to be active throughout the day. This epidemic is often referred to by medical professionals as “sitting disease.”
Sitting disease can lead to increased risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain kinds of cancer. Dr. Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, says that sitting disease presents the same risk of heart attack as smoking. In fact, a study done by Dr. David Alter found that participants who spent most of their time sitting were 24% more likely to die during the study.
If that doesn’t scare you, maybe this will: the negative effects of sitting all day cancel out the positive effects of regular exercise. That’s right, even working out can’t prevent sitting disease. The only way to avoid it is to quit sitting so much.
Even though sitting disease can lead to some serious health problems, it’s easy to find ways to reduce the risks. If you cut your sitting time in half every day, it can add up to two years to your life expectancy. And there are plenty of ways to get out of your seat during the day.
The most obvious solution is to just stand up more. Standing burns 30% more calories than sitting. That might not seem like much, but it adds up when you spend hours every day at your desk. The American Medical Association recommends standing desks for people who normally sit all day. There are all kinds of standing desks on the market, so it’s not hard to find one that fits you and your budget. Wirk, Stamina’s new line of office fitness equipment, includes the Linea, a fully-adjustable stand-up workstation.
Even better than standing is walking. Park your car further away so you have a longer walk to the door. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Instead of sitting while you talk on the phone, get up and walk around. Don’t send an email to a co-worker when you can just walk to their office and tell them in person.
Still can’t manage to pull yourself away from your desk? Don’t worry, you have other options. Replace your desk chair with an exercise ball. Even though you’d still be sitting, you have to use your core to stay balanced and engage muscles you normally wouldn’t have to in a chair. If that doesn’t work for you, you can use more discreet office fitness equipment that fits right under your desk, like the Wirk Orbit Strider.
If you really want to up your activity level at work, you should check out a cycling workstation like the Wirk Ride. These are especially great for people who work at home. They let you pedal while you use your computer, going beyond just avoiding sedentary behavior and actually allowing you to get a workout in.
Sitting disease and its long-term effects are certainly scary. The good news is that it’s one of the easiest diseases to prevent! Just get out of your chair and on your feet.