The chair may look like a harmless piece of home or office furniture, but health experts say spending too much time sitting can be hazardous to your health.
Some experts even refer to sitting as the new smoking.
If you sit for more than six hours a day and have a waist of more than 37 inches, you are 94 percent more likely to die if you’re a woman and 48 percent more likely to die if you’re a man. That was the finding in a 14-year longitudinal study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Who knew that sitting could be so deadly?
A sedentary lifestyle affects not only your physical well-being, but your mental well-being and your productivity at work, says North Dakota Worksite Wellness Administrator Pete Seljevold of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.
“It’s not just the time you spend sitting at work,” Seljevold said. “Add in the time spent sitting while commuting to and from work, plus any screen time once you get home. You can easily spend more time sitting than sleeping.”
British researcher Jeremy Morris studied double-decker bus drivers and conductors in London in the late 1940s to early 1950s. The sedentary drivers were twice as likely to die from heart attacks as the physically active conductors. Morris also conducted a study of clerical workers and mail carriers, which yielded similar results.
“This confirms what we intuitively already know. The more active you are, the better it is for your health. The more sedentary, the worse it is for your health,” Seljevold said.
Seljevold offers these tips to help you be more physically active at work if you have a sedentary job:
- Stand during phone calls or when reading.
- Have standing meetings or walking meetings.
- Set a timer on your desk or cellphone. Every hour, get up and move for three to five minutes. You can get some water to drink or use the restroom. If you take six five-minute breaks a day, that’s 30 minutes. If you do that every day at work, you’ve added 150 minutes of physical activity to your week.
- Go for a walk on your 15-minute “coffee” break.
- If feasible, get a standing work station or adjust your work station.
He adds that other studies indicate that creativity and productive go up even after short bursts of exercise.
“The biggest thing is to move every hour,” Seljevold says.
You can start becoming more active by doing short microbursts, or a short activity, at your desk. Here are some short YouTube videos to get you started:
- Shoulder rolls
- Chair jog
- Mini squats
- Neck stretches
- Upper back stretch
- Seated core rotations
- Wrist stretches
- Shoulder press with lat pull down
- Overhead side bends
Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.