Over time, I revisit a few topics to just beat a dead horse. Today is one of those topics: We sit too much. You can go back to my original sitting LIFEies by clicking here. We should not sit for more than 20 minutes without standing up and moving around.
I have highlighted some ideas, all in green, below, but here are some news flashes:
–Go buy a sit/stand desk. We sell them at Forward Tilt, one of the companies I’m involved with. Email my partner Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Forward Tilt to learn more.
–Stand during meetings.
–Get up and walk around and stretch for two minutes every 20 minutes (that’s right, every 20 minutes).
–Have walking meetings.
Rule #9 from my book The Fantastic Life: Recognize There are two kinds of pain.
We often get caught in the workflow, and taking care of ourselves seems to take a backseat. But you’ll regret it later, after you’ve spent months or years sitting for hours on end. So go ahead, take two minutes to stretch right now, and avoid the pain of regret.
The Price We Pay for Sitting Too Much
New formulas for how long we should spend sitting and standing in a workday.
September 28, 2015
An increasing number of studies have found that regular exercise doesn’t reduce the risks that come with sedentary behavior. WSJ’s Sumathi Reddy and the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Michael Jensen discuses with Tanya Rivero.
Studies have found that sedentary behavior, including sitting for extended periods, increases the risk for developing dozens of chronic conditions, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Some ergonomics experts warn that too much standing also can have negative effects on health, including a greater risk for varicose veins, back and foot problems, and carotid artery disease.
“The key is breaking up your activity throughout the day,” said Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University. “Sitting all day and standing all day are both bad for you,” he said.
For every half-hour working in an office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes and then move around and stretch for two minutes, Dr. Hedge recommends, based on a review of studies that he has presented at corporate seminars and expects to publish. He says standing for more than 10 minutes tends to cause people to lean, which can lead to back problems and other musculoskeletal issues.
“The current scientific evidence shows that when people have occupations in which they are on their feet for more than two hours a day, there seems to be a reduction in the risk of developing key chronic diseases,” said John Buckley, a professor of applied exercise science at the University of Chester in England and lead author of the published guidelines. Among the guidelines’ eight authors, one of the other panel members disclosed a competing interest as owner of a website that sells sit-stand work products.
Janet Cade, professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Leeds, in England, and senior author of the paper, said the study found an association between the two factors and didn’t prove causality.
Various studies have shown that even regular exercise won’t compensate for the negative effects from sitting too much during the day. Sitting causes physiological changes in the body, and may trigger some genetic factors that are linked to inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Buckley, of the University of Chester. In contrast, standing activates muscles so excess amounts of blood glucose don’t hang around in the bloodstream and are instead absorbed in the muscles, he said.
The effects of prolonged sitting on blood flow were examined in a recent small study involving 11 young men published in the journal Experimental Physiology. After six hours of sitting, the vasculature function in one of the leg’s main arteries was reduced by more than 50%, but was restored after 10 minutes of walking, said Jaume Padilla, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri in Columbia and senior author of the study.
“More research is needed to determine if reduced vascular function with prolonged sitting leads to long-term vascular complications,” said Dr. Padilla.
The majority of interventions that didn’t work were aimed at getting people to do more physical activity, Dr. Gardner said. “We need interventions that are designed specifically to break up sitting as well as interventions that try to get people to move about more,” he said.
Michael Jensen, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who specializes in obesity and diabetes, uses various ways to reduce daily sitting time that he also recommends to his patients. When he has meetings with just one or two people he finds a place where they can walk together instead of sitting. And he tells his patients who are parents to use their children’s athletic events as a time to be on their feet. “There’s no reason you have to sit and watch those games,” Dr. Jensen said.
Tiffany Mura, who has been using a standing desk since 2012, says it increases her concentration. The 45-year-old, who works at a biotech company near Boston, says she also makes a point of standing at most meetings despite the fact that it was awkward at first. “I’m an avid runner and agree that standing is necessary even for fit people like myself,” she said.
Marc Ebuña builds standing time into the 25-minute train ride to his work at a public-relations firm in Boston. “People fight for a seat, I’m happy to stand out of the way and let them fight,” said the 28-year-old.