Is Sitting the New Smoking?

One growing trend in a healthy work life is ditching the chair and moving to a standing desk.

The Financial Times writes that “an increasing number of experts are saying that sitting for long periods is the ‘new smoking’ in terms of increasing our risk of death and disease – no matter how ergonomic your chair or how extensive your weekly exercise routine. This is because leg and back muscles become shortened over time from staying in a sitting posture and your heart suffers from a lack of activity.”

The piece continues: “Working at a computer while standing has been shown to be beneficial to office workers in a number of ways. Marvin Dainoff, an ergonomist who is director of the centre for behavioural science at US insurer Liberty Mutual, found that workers who stand up during their workday have “fewer complaints about their health as well as having higher work accuracy.’ Furthermore, they take fewer breaks than their sedentary colleagues and get more accomplished.”

Of course, there is also risk to standing too much.

“’There is a risk to the lower back and lower limbs from standing,’ says Karen Messing, who has studied this issue as a professor of biological sciences at the University of Quebec. Prof Messing says the ideal ratio is roughly 70 per cent standing and 30 per cent sitting, alternating throughout the day.”

Yahoo offers an article by one standing desk convert, who lists the reasons she’s happy with the move:

  1. “Despite my best intentions (and years of childhood ballet training), I’d hunch over in my chair for hours at a time. Slouching while standing at a desk would require real effort.”
  2. “Since I’m already up, I’m more likely to walk over to someone to ask a question or discuss an idea than to fire off an e-mail, which is healthier and more efficient, and yields richer communication.”
  3. “Sore feet are never an issue, thanks to my trusty antifatigue mat, made of spongy vinyl to give me all-day cushioning and support.”
  4. “My belly doesn’t bulge as much as it does when I’m sitting. Feeling less self-conscious about my abs and tightening them at the same time? Win!”
  5. “I’m empowered. When a coworker approaches me about a touchy issue while I’m sitting, I tend to react defensively. When I’m standing, I feel a greater sense of confidence and control.”
  6. “I have a newfound appreciation for meetings — or, should I say, sitting breaks.”


Ideas to Make Your Workspace a Healthier Space

You may not have total control over your workspace… but if you have even a little control, are there small things you can do to improve your health at the desk?

According to there are: “Whether you work from a home office or sit in a corporate cubicle, there are things you can do to make your workplace better for your health and wellbeing. Here’s how to give your office space a health makeover, according to the experts.”

Among the tips:

  • “Remind yourself to sit less: People who work at desks should stand or walk around for at least two hours a day to avoid health risks related to too much sitting, according to a 2015 British study… Computer programs like Move for iOS or Big Stretch Reminder for Windows can remind you to take breaks at regular intervals; some even provide suggestions for stretches and exercises you can do at your workspace”
  • “Try a standing desk: If your workplace allows it, switching to a standing desk can help you sit less and move more during the day. But being on your feet all day can also lead to aches and pains, so look for a setup that allows you to adjust the height or your work station and use a chair when needed.”
  • “Stop eating at your desk: Sitting down to lunch away from your desk won’t just keep crumbs out of your keyboard; it can also help reset your brain for an afternoon of productivity. Plus, it can stop you from eating mindlessly while you work or surf the Internet.”
  • “Pay attention to your posture: Invest in (or ask your boss to provide you with) an ergonomic desk chair that supports correct posture. You can also try a gadget like the Lumo Lift, a tiny sensor that pins to your shirt and vibrates when it senses you slouching forward.”