Warning: you may find some of these facts startling.
There have been multiple medical studies over the past two decades on the impacts of sitting on human health (Google them, we counted and read 16 peer reviewed medical studies before we stopped searching). Nearly one million individuals were observed, and the results are disturbing. One study reported that sitting for more than half the work day (four hours or more) approximately doubles your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. It is not difficult to understand this relationship. A study comparing the activity levels of those in agricultural communities and those in urban communities found that people in agricultural communities sat approximately three hours of every waking day, compared with fifteen hours for their urban counterparts. This translated into the people living in the agricultural communities burning approximately 2,000 calories more per day on average! And all of it simply from being on their feet, standing, walking and generally being active all day – it had nothing to do with specific attempts at exercise or fitness related activities.
Many of the problems created by sitting are related to weight gain, obesity and ultimately diabetes and heart disease, but the seated position itself, as well as the inactivity, also do a number on your posture, strength and mobility. Our bodies were designed to move, to hunt, to flee danger, to gather. Not to sit in chairs. Extended time periods in the seated position lead to muscle atrophy and weakness, and incredibly immobile joints. Every day at Tribal we see the wonderful effects of people re-learning how to hinge at their hips (one of the most powerful movements the human body can perform), and regaining their natural joint mobility (specifically in the ankles, hips and shoulders) which has been lost thanks to chairs.
So, you want to be healthy and mobile now, and into your wonder years, but you work at a desk. How can you improve your odds? Simple, revert to your natural state and complete tasks on your feet like you were meant to do. Phone calls may be a big part of your day, well, I don’t see a cord on that cell phone latching you to your desk. Make it a habit that you will make and receive all calls on your feet while walking, even if it is just pacing back in forth in a cubicle. Dozens of meetings? Take that meeting on the move by scheduling a meeting place and a designated walking lane around the office or the building for all the meeting participants, you will think better and feel reinvigorated. And of course, the standing desk. Simply working on your feet throughout the day can burn several hundred calories when compared to a full day of sitting, and it has the added benefit of keeping your hips looser (make sure you are maintaining that great posture, no slouching). Don’t have a standing desk? Placing your laptop computer on a filing cabinet, or even adding some phone books underneath your monitor can give you all the height you need for a standing work station.
Give it a try for a few weeks, you’ll move better, feel better, sleep better, and work more efficiently.