If you're like 86 percent of American workers, you sit all day for your job. Add to that the time you spend sitting on the couch after work watching television, reading, playing games or surfing the Internet, and you spend approximately 13 hours a day sitting down, according to a survey by Ergotron, a manufacturer of digital display mounting and mobility products.
But could you be at risk for "Sitting Disease?"
Given the number of workers who perform their tasks on a computer or otherwise seated at a desk, medical experts are starting to become concerned about the health effects of sitting. The scientific community has coined the phrase "Sitting Disease" to refer to the effect sitting has on metabolism, as well as the negative impact of an overly sedentary lifestyle. It may not be a diagnosable disease yet, but if you sit the majority of the day and don't balance it out with physical activity, your health could be in jeopardy.
The Dangers of Sitting
Ergotron's informative site, JustStand.org, provides ample medical research indicating that prolonged sitting increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and even death. Here are other shocking statistics:
--People who sit for more than 11 hours a day have a 40 percent increased risk of death in the next three years, compared with people who sit for four hours or less.
--Workers who have held sedentary roles for more than 10 years have twice the risk of colon cancer.
--The longer people sit, the shorter their lifespan, even if they exercise regularly.
--Sitting for long periods may also affect the development of musculoskeletal disorders.
Want to know how much you sit? Try out this Sitting Time Calculator to find out.
How to Stand Up Against Sitting Disease
Before you quit your desk job in favor of your health, arm yourself with information about how you can reduce your risk of health issues that sitting can cause. The key is being more active. But be aware: even if you consider yourself active now (meaning you spend 30 minutes or more a day engaging in physical exercise), you're still considered high risk if you spend eight to 10 hours a day sitting.
If possible, aim for more exercise, especially on the days you're sitting for work. Walking, hiking, biking and swimming are all excellent forms of exercise that counter the effects of sitting.
Also, look into standing and walking more at work and at home. Rather than call or IM a co-worker, walk over to her office. Park farther away in the parking lot so that you have another opportunity to walk. Invest in a FitBit or other pedometer device and aim for 10,000 steps a day. Stand up while watching TV, or at least during commercial breaks. Build activity into your day, even if it's in five-minute bursts.
There are also products available that let you stand, sit and stand, or even walk on a treadmill while you work on your computer. Sitting on a stability ball can also engage your muscles and make sitting a more active event.
Don't let the idea of Sitting Disease scare you. Make it an excuse to be more proactive about your health, both at the office and at home. Find opportunities to get up from your desk, or to work while standing (don't make going to the break room for a piece of birthday cake your excuse). Being aware of your health and how sitting affects it can help reduce the risk of the diseases that a sedentary lifestyle can bring, and being more active can have the added perk of better health and fitness, as well as weight loss.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.
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