Is sitting the new smoking?

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Worker sitting
The health impacts of sitting may effect you for the rest of your life

This was actually suggested in a journal article two years ago. (Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy BJSM 2012 Vol 46)
While I disagree that constant sitting has the same type of detrimental health effects as smoking, more and more research indicates that sitting and inactivity contributes just as much to the public health cost as smoking – seriously!
So you sit and have breakfast (please tell me you have breakfast), you sit in the car, bus or train, you sit at work and you sit all over again at night! You can have a $1000 “ergonomic (now there’s a brilliant marketing term!) chair, fancy mouse pads, screen filters and monitor arms, but if you sit all day you decrease metabolism (get fat), lose muscle tone and compress key body areas, especially the lower back. Good research shows that even 90 minutes at the gym daily does not compensate for the effects of sitting all day at work.
The answer is really quite simple – don’t. For most workers reading this, standing at work may have a stigma attached – “oh he’s the strange guy with the bad back”. A change in many workplaces’ culture and leadership is needed to encourage daily workplace practices which have been proven to not only improve health and also productivity. Could you stand everytime you make a phone call? Could you move the printer away from your desk? Could you stand in meetings and still hold the conversation?
Ergonomics as an industry is a bit like weight loss. In theory, the answers are quite simple but we look for complex solutions, fancy gadgets and quite often shift the blame to someone or something else. Most modern workplaces do currently encourage sitting and we can make that as ‘ergonomic’ as possible, but, the evidence suggests strongly – if you sit all day, regardless of your set-up, you will suffer pain, reduce productivity and quite probably, suffer long term health concerns.



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