Knowledge Workers Beware — Sitting Could Kill You
A new study says that people who sit most of the day are more likely to get fat, have a heart attack or die.
THIS IS disconcerting to me, for if you’re a knowledge worker — meaning you do your work with posterior firmly affixed on a chair — you may count me among you. And I guess we need to change our ways.
Sure, I get plenty of exercise, and maybe you do too. But after reading the synopsis of this new study by the British Journal of Health Medicine, I’m thinking that exercise concentrated in small doses a few times a week might not be the health panacea I hoped it was.
(Well, in conjunction with stress-busting thoughts and healthy eating.)
That’s because this study says that people who exercise every day – but still spend a lot of time sitting – would be better off if that exercise were spread across the day, rather than done in a single bout.
This is not welcome news. We office dwellers (… err.. sitters) seldom break out of our chairs for more than a few moments. A few of us do so perhaps once a day for an hour or less of exercise, happy with the thought that we’re overcoming the negative effects from the overwhelming portion of the day spent sessile.
Guess not. Shouldn’t be surprising. After all, our bodies aren’t built to sit all day. We’re built to move.
This seems empirically true. Those “blue zones” inhabited by people who live unusually long and vital lives have a few things in common, and one of them is that they are in motion more than not.
Sitting in the blue zones is the thing you do whilst eating; when you work, you move.[More on blue zones here and here.]
So, what to do?
When at my desk, I often sit on a large yellow balance ball which causes me to slightly shift around to maintain balance. I figure this is good for posture and core strength. But it hardly substitutes for using two legs to ambulate much of the day.
Former Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfied, had a standing desk. Wasn’t sitting, but I don’t think that is going to make much of a difference.
Thus, it seems to me that we need to get off our butts more often and move around. Just like we need to pause from staring our computer screens every few minutes to focus on something distant in order to keep our eyes healthy… we also need to break the umbilical cord to the computer several times a day and walk around.
Have stairs nearby? A few floors every hours should help.
No stairs? Maybe hop on one foot. I’ll start now…