How your office chair is killing you
'We are sitting ourselves to death,' a doctor says in a new book, and obesity isn't the only risk.
Standing while you read this could do something toward saving your life, according to Dr. James Levine, whose new book reveals how he came to the scientific conclusion that our chairs are killing us.
"Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death," says Levine, a professor of medicine at the U.S.-based Mayo Clinic, in his book "Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It."
Levine's claims are based on a study of "non-exercise activity thermogenesis" or NEAT, which is the amount of energy we use doing everything except sleeping, eating and exercise. NEAT activities include going to work, shoveling snow and taking a walk -- and the more active your job is, the more NEAT calories you burn.
"Those individuals who are lean are up and walking about 2¼ more hours a day than those individuals who are obese," Levine said in an online seminar last week.
And although these extra couple of hours may contain a relatively small amount of movement, they have huge health implications, according to Levine -- and obesity isn't the only possible consequence.
Low NEAT is linked to, among other things, weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks and cancer, he said.
Standing offices and classrooms -- with high desks that keep you on your feet -- are one way to address low NEAT, according to Levine. He argued that workplaces in which people stand and move about have more productive workforces.
"What is critically important is that companies that deploy these types of programs show increased hardcode productivity of around 11 percent," he said.
The doctor also pointed to studies run in more active classrooms across Sweden, Germany and the U.S. which found "on average, kid's grades improve 10-15 percent against (average) equivalent child equivalents".
Taking a stand against standing?
The standing office has come under fire from some quarters, however, with critics arguing that standing at your desk all day has its own negative health implications.
Research by the Toronto Workers Health & Safety Centre found that standing for prolonged periods could lead to, among other things, sore backs, feet and varicose veins.
The New York Times Magazine columnist Dan Kois, who underwent a month-long standing experiment, also highlighted possible social problems with the standing desk in an article entitled "Sitting, the great leveler."
"From the lowliest peasant to the mightiest pharaoh, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" Kois wrote, quoting Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons." "I had never really thought about the social implications of standing versus sitting until this month brought them to the fore."
But for those who prefer to take a seat, all is not lost, with a recent study indicating that exercise may offset the dangers of sitting. According to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center, one hour of physical exercise could counteract the effects of sitting for six to seven hours a day.
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I should stay here in my desk chair for several more hours and compile a list of articles that'll help me save my life. *continues trolling*
If I had to do over again, I would never get a career that requires sitting (or standing, that causes problems too) , it has ruined my overall health from back problems, pelvic muscle and knee problems....it breaks you down over the years. Working out a few hours or even everyday will not counteract the problems from sitting all day. Our entire workplace foundation is based on sitting in a building or a enclosed tomb-- it's crazy. Instead of looking for a career, look first for work that combines sitting/standing and/or moving around a lot; police officer, national park ranger, oceanographer, sales--- anything that gets you moving around outside and some indoor seating for no more then a few hours.
Standing too long is not good for your joins either.
Just find the balance between the two.
Due to a back injury I had to start standing all day at work. It hurt way more to sit than stand. The first couple of weeks were tough, but by the 6th or 7th month I was used to it. I am definitely way more healthy, have more energy, and get complimented for it by my peers.
To the point of what do you do when someone else is in the office? Well if someone comes in then I sit. I was always under the impression that when you are dealing with people its much easier at eye level. Not that hard to overcome.
Nowadays spent half my time between standing and sitting (thank the maker) but I will say after a while I am just antsy and have to stand. To those that are saying its propaganda its not, but the way the article is written it gives off that impression. There are a lot more articles and health documents that could have been included that describe what you do for the predominate portion of the day (I.E. desk jockey vs Construction worker) is an independent factor to your mortality ( so if the desk jockey works out every day and the the construction worker does not, one does not have the advantage over the other in this instance).
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