Sitting Too Much for Work? It Might Kill You

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Do you sit all day long in a cubicle? Perhaps in your home office? If you are, it could be killing you.

At least that is what some recent studies say. I can remember a few months back seeing a cool infographic about this from a friend on Facebook. Then it seemed wherever I went, there I saw another article or news report about the dangers of sitting. I thought, well, I work out a lot, so it must not apply to me. According to these studies, though, I am totally wrong.

Public Radio International had an interesting article about how extended periods of sitting can present major health risks

"Even if you get up in the morning, get on your treadmill for 30 minutes, and you think you've done your exercise for the day, and then you just go sit around and do nothing, you've unwound all of that benefit you made in the morning," Blair said.

In the audio interview they go on to say how sitting for long periods is worse than smoking. Jeez, that's comforting.

It's not uncommon in today's workplace - whether the office or at home - to sit for hours on end. Almost all our work occurs in front of a computer. Thus we sit on our behinds.

When I first started working full-time at home, I almost immediately gained weight. While I maintained a regular workout routine, what I had lost was the crucial extra movement that came from working in an office. When I worked in corporate, I had to take a far walk from my car to the building. I climbed the stairs to my office several times a day (3rd floor). I ran up and down the steps a few times a day to use the rest room (simply to move). Then I did a regular workout each day (usually walking about 10 minutes each way to the gym) and sometimes took an afternoon walk around the building with a colleague. Then back to the far walk to the car and home.

too much sitting

Credit Image: cmcbrown via Flickr

I was stunned how little I actually have to move now that my commute involves walking down the steps.

In my first few years working from home I slowly but surely gained a few pounds. Not a lot but enough to make me feel more sluggish and generally feel overweight. I felt not as sharp and not as productive.

I attributed this to three main causes:

1) Lack of that collateral movement that simply happened as part of my regular workday.

2) I had quit going to the gym to save money (and was doing it all myself).

3) I was so busy trying to get the business off the ground that I cut back on my workouts. A simple walk instead of a hard workout for instance. While a hard workout isn't required for most, it certainly is for me (and my sanity).

As I looked a little deeper into this, I discovered the organization JustStand.org. Their "take a stand" project is geared toward using the simple act of standing to combat this over-sedentary trend. The one compelling fact that really caught my eye was:

If inactive and sitting longer than 6 hours a day, women are 94% more likely to die prematurely.

Ouch! The good news is that the solutions to this challenge is simple. You just have to stand more. I've seen a wide variety of treadmill desks, but frankly I can't imagine typing and walking. Coordination wise, I'd be doomed. But what I have done in the last year or so is to simply stand up and walk around a lot more. When I am on phone meetings with clients - I move around. When I teach teleseminars, I walk as if I were in the front of the room. I get up every 30-60 minutes if only to refill my water or run to the loo. Sometimes I hoof it upstairs just because I can. I continue to work out regularly and went back to the gym and my trainer because it helps fuel me.

If nothing else I feel more awake and alive when I incorporate this into my regular day. Even if you're not a workout kind of person, you can do this.

What has been your experience? Are you sitting more or less? If you've recareered to work from home, has your sitting increased or decreased?

What are your creative solutions to the sitting-too-long problem?

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments.


Paula Gregorowicz plucks women off the hamster wheel of overwhelm, struggle, and self-doubt and guides them to a purposeful path of building authentic and successful businesses.

Download the Free Report: Your Own Uniqueness: The Path to Purpose, Prosperity, and Playfulness at http://www.thepaulagcompany.com.

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