There’s a reason you keep hearing the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”. Like smoking, chronic sitting is a nasty habit. Thanks to a decades-long public health and information campaign, the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes is in rapid decline. The same kind of information offensive is now being launched against sitting disease, and the facts are chilling. In fact, so much ink has been spilled on the problem lately that it’s hard to keep track of all the information to truly understand the scope of the problem. So, here’s a quick rundown of all the reasons you need to quit your sitting habit.
- Chronic Disease: People who sit a lot tend to die earlier. Excessive sitting is associated with premature mortality from all causes, and the development of the “big three” killer diseases: heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Obesity and Weight Gain: Calorie burning and fat metabolism practically shut down when you sit for too long, which can lead to conditions like metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
- Back Pain: Excessive sitting can lead to or exacerbate chronic back and neck pain. Our bodies aren’t meant to remain in any static position for hours at a time.
- Depression: Too little physical activity not only leads to current depressive symptoms, but also increases the likelihood of future symptoms.
- Low Energy and Productivity: Sitting may be the reason for your afternoon slump. Many standing desk users report an increase in energy, focus and productivity.
Even physically fit people are vulnerable to these health hazards. The only way to effectively combat sitting disease is to interrupt sitting regularly. A modest change is all you need – simply standing up or taking a quick walk will do the trick. At the very least, try to take one 10–30 minute break for every hour of sitting.
Below is some additional research and news regarding sitting disease,
We couldn’t agree more with this recent Fast Company article – it’s healthy to try to stand more at work, but when you have to sit down, do it right! We talk a lot about “sitting disease”, but this author uses the term “Sedentary Death Syndrome” and notes that it “was coined by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 2002 to address the growing consequences of a seated lifestyle”. No matter how you say it, too much sitting is not good, and when you do sit, proper posture is important for more than just preventing back pain – it also makes you look taller and more confident, keeps your mind alert, keeps your core muscles active, and even improves circulation and oxygen intake. Healthy sitting is described as “…’relaxed, straight sitting,’ where your core is strong, your spine is erect, and your shoulders are active but not tense.
Standing up at your VariDesk regularly throughout the day will help you stay energized and strong, so that when you do sit down, you’ve got the energy, strength, and awareness not to slouch!
We all know by now that too much sitting is bad for your ticker, your waistline, … oh, let’s face it, just about everything. But, if you’ve ever felt moody, irritable, and fatigued at the end of the workday (and who hasn’t?), you’ll be less than surprised to hear that excessive sitting also has negative psychological effects. This article at Medicaldaily.com explores the possible link between sitting time, physical activity and depression.
Victoria University and University of Queensland
Researchers from Victoria University and University of Queensland in Australia analyzed the survey responses of 8,950 women over several years, looking for associations among all three areas. They found that those who sat the most (more than seven hours a day) had a 47% higher risk for current depressive symptoms than women who sat the least (less than four hours per day). Women who did no physical activity had a 99% higher risk for developing depressive symptoms than those who met moderate exercise guidelines, and those who sat for multiple hours and got no exercise were three times more likely to have depressive symptoms than women who sat less and exercised more.
The authors noted that sitting disease was associated with current signs of depression, while inactivity made future depressive symptoms more likely, “Increasing physical activity … can alleviate current depression symptoms and prevent future symptoms in mid-aged women,” wrote the researchers in their paper. “Reducing sitting time may ameliorate current symptoms.”
So, to nutshell that info for you:
- Sitting less will likely help you feel better now.
- More physical activity in general makes it more likely that you’ll feel good years from now.
American Journal of Epidemiology
The issues caused by sitting too frequently during the day are becoming increasingly well documented, and the stats start to quantify the threat that sitting disease has to your employees health and well-being.
The American Journal of Epidemiology did a study in 2010 on the correlation between sitting and an individual’s physical health. In the study, 53,440 men and 69,776 women were queried on time spent sitting and physical activity. The subjects were all disease free at enrollment. The authors identified 11,307 deaths in men and 7,923 deaths in women during the 14-year follow-up.
The findings: Women who reported sitting for more than six hours during their leisure time versus less than three hours a day had an approximately 40% higher all-cause death rate, and men had an approximately 20% higher death rate.
Sitting disease is something that we can combat. Vari's range of standing desks is a perfect solution that allows individuals to stand and work at their computer during a working day.
If you don’t think your sedentary lifestyle is on a par with habitual smoking, it’s time to take a closer look at the evidence.
Research shows that heavy smokers are nearly four times more likely to die from any cause than nonsmokers. In comparison, the Mayo Clinic compared the likelihood of death for people who spend less than two hours per day sitting to those who spend more than four hours sitting and found a 50 percent increased risk of death for the more sedentary group. For those suffering from sitting disease that are sitting six hours or more at the office, the numbers are sure to be even more drastic – perhaps closer to or in line with the risk for heavy smokers.
Sitting Disease can increase your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and premature death. Did you know that sitting down can also have an impact on your memory?
“Your Desk is Making You Stupid” – takes a look at a memory study by Sabine Schaefer, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
- “The headline finding was that the working memory performance of both age groups improved when walking at their chosen speed compared with when sitting…”
- “Walking increases your resources of energy, which you can then invest in thinking.”
- “Of course, not every mental activity can or should be performed while walking, but this new research reinforces…being too tightly chained to our desks is bad for our minds as well as our physical health.”
- Clearly, sitting disease is no laughing matter, and the scope of how it can affect us is only just coming to light. Of course, the best way to fight it is to stand up more during the day.
Dai Manuel is the super-fit guy behind the “Moose is Loose” health and fitness blog and a newly minted VARIDESK fan! We’re so thrilled he likes our product because if a health guru like Dai is in our corner, we know we’re doing something right. Not only will he make you want to get a VariDesk right away, but he’ll get you motivated to create an all-around healthier life!
Active people may actually be more at risk for sitting disease than their couch potato counterparts! Turns out, if you wake up and hit the gym or run a few miles, you may feel like you’ve earned the right to sit around for the rest of the day. “Research presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine from Illinois State University reports that people are about 30 percent less active overall on days when they exercise versus days they don’t hit the road or the gym.” This is important for two reasons: One, it’s good information that will hopefully help a lot of people live healthier lives. And two, it shatters the preconceived notion of the sitting disease sufferer as an overweight, unhealthy, low-activity person. That super-fit runner friend of yours? He or she could be suffering from sitting disease and not even know it.
Now, this is a Runner’s World article, so obviously they’re not prescribing less running or other strenuous physical activity (and neither are we), but rather more low-level, non-sedentary activity throughout the day. Like, say…. I dunno … using a standing desk maybe? Just a thought.
Check out our infographic below to learn about the benefits of incorporating a standing desk into your daily routine.
Chau, J.Y., der Ploeg, H.P., van Uffelen, J.G., et al. (2010). Are workplace interventions to reduce sitting effective? A systematic review. Preventive Medicine, 51, 352–356.
Dunstan, D.W., Kingwell, B.A., Larsen, R., et al. (2012). Breaking up prolonged sitting reduces postprandial glucose and insulin responses. Diabetes Care, 35, 976–983.
Katzmarzyk, P.T., Church, T.S., Craig, C.L., and Bouchard, C. (2009). Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(5), 998-1005.