At least half my days are spent sitting at my desk seven to eight hours. I’ve never thought much about it in my 17 years leading Corporate Rain International, my executive sales outsourcing firm, other than occasionally noticing a bit of a headache late in the day.
I was riding Metro North to Grand Central Station last month and I idly picked up a local Connecticutt newspaper someone had left on the seat beside me. The headline read, “Don’t Take Work Sitting Down!” What I read stunned me. What I read was that just working daily at your desk may kill you.
Yup. A recent study by the American Heart Association states that sitting at your desk is anything but benign. What you are doing right now reading this blog may be more dangerous to your health than cancer, high cholesterol, overweight, or smoking. That’s right. Regularly sitting for long periods is just as damaging to your health as these more publicized maladies.
And the AHA is not alone in it’s warning. The American Cancer Society researchers recently found that more time sitting was associated with higher death rate. Over 13 years 123,000 people were followed. It turns out that men who sat more than six hours a day were 18% more likely to die than those who sat three hours or less.
Long stretches of inertia affect insulin’s effectiveness, decrease good cholesterol, and slow metabolism. It increases risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
But, you may say, I work out regularly at the gym. Certainly that must immunize me to sedentary health damage? Nope. Dr. Steven Kunis, the medical director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation lab in Bridgeport, CT states, “Sitting for long periods of time negates the effects of exercise.” (Connecticutt Post, Feb. 15, 2012, Section C)
So get off your ass, my brothers and sisters. Here’s what I’ve started doing. It’s pretty simple and obvious. Mostly it’s a matter of just stopping to do it. I have the “just one more thing” syndrome that often becomes 20 more things and three hours of sitting without break regardless of my intentions.
- I try to get up and walk around every hour or so.
- Do clenching exercises at my desk.
- Do a set of sit-ups and push-ups on my officer floor.
- Drink lots of water. It forces me to get up and pee pretty often.
- Take occasional phone calls standing.
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “A sedentary life is the real sin against the Holy Spirit.”