By now, you’ve may have heard about the dangers of sitting too much. Standing desks are becoming more and more popular, and there is growing recognition that our sedentary lifestyles may be contributing to the decline in our general health.
However, I didn’t realize the enormity of the sitting issue until a few months ago. I started researching the benefits of standing out of personal curiosity when I began working at home. I had previously been used to sitting in front of a computer for up to 16-hour days, and I wanted to try to change that. In my quest to make my new work environment as healthy as possible, I had fashioned my own standing desk out of my kitchen counter and a random kitchen box.
Around this time, my father-in-law sent an article from the Washington Post (which I found online here). As a side note, Gary sends Kevin and I packages of awesome and relevant torn-out articles a few times per month. We really look forward to those packages, but rarely thank him, so thanks a lot, Gary!
Anyway, the Post article cited many dangers of sitting too often. I’ve chosen my top 10 (in no order) to share with you.
Sitting for extended periods of time makes you more prone to:
- Heart damage (people with the most sedentary time recorded are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least sedentary time recorded!)
- Muscles burning less fat (you can burn up to 310 extra calories per day by standing, according to this article)
- Overproductive pancreas (leading to diabetes and several other diseases)
- Higher risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancer (potentially due to increased insulin or the lack of exercise-induced antioxidant boosts)
- Quicker muscle degeneration (including weaker abs, swayback, tight hips and hip flexors, and weaker glutes … all of which are terrible for runners!)
- Bad circulation in the legs (leading to varicose veins)
- Weaker bones
- Slower brain function
- Strained neck, sore shoulders, and back pain
- Death (those who watched the most TV in one study had a 61% greater risk of dying than those who watched less than 1 hour per day … and yes, of course I realize that there are many, many other factors correlated to TV watching that likely had a greater impact on the risk of death than the actual TV-watching itself, but this is still a terrifying statistic!)
Unfortunately for those of us that think we get a “free pass” for being such dedicated exercisers, the detriment of sitting for extended periods of time impacts even those that exercise regularly. This article calls us “active couch potatoes,” and says that we still succumb to the metabolic changes that inactivity brings, even if we’re exercising for short periods of time each day. (The article also explains some of the biological mechanisms through which this happens, if you’re curious).
Since the time of my kitchen counter desk, my awesome husband paid attention to what I was doing (either that or got annoyed by me leaving that box on the kitchen counter) and got me a really cool standing desk contraption … it sets on top of any surface and adjusts to whatever height you choose. I have it on my desk, and I alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. (It’s important to shift your weight or pace around a bit while standing; otherwise you risk the same blood pooling as you would with sitting!)
I even sometimes bring it up on my rooftop. Yes, things could get a WHOLE lot worse than trying to build a business you are passionate about … on the roof in Dallas spring weather with iced coffee, seaweed snacks, and a view of your home-grown “garden.” And yes, I do appreciate this every day!
For those of you whose work environment wouldn’t support a standing desk, here are a few suggestions:
- Grease the groove: In this post, I talk about standing every time you get on the phone. If you could only make this one change, your overall health would improve dramatically! Walk the hallways, head outside to take the call, or just stand at your cubicle.
- Set an alarm: Every hour, try to walk around for 5 minutes. If you work at home, do 20 push-ups or 30 jumping jacks. At the very least, just stand up for 30 seconds.
- Drink a lot of water: This will prevent you from even having to set an alarm, as you’ll be walking to the restroom frequently! Double bonus – hydration and movement! (Here’s my water drinking app from the iTunes store if you need extra reminders!)
- Go for a walk instead of watching TV when you get home: I know, this one is asking a lot. But even if you get it done a few times per week, you’ll benefit tremendously!
One last tidbit on sitting … a neat info graphic on standing that I found here:
**Last thing … did you check out my Featured Runner’s Spotlight on Lil Mys Ninja’s blog? Read it here to find out why I started running, what running has taught me, my sources of running motivation, and more!**
So tell me in the comments … Have you ever used a standing desk? Do you think you sit “too much” during the day? Any tips on how to combat this?