Your Job Is Killing You
Sitting is Bad
Did you know that sitting for extended periods of time leads to more deaths than HIV and smoking?(1) Dr. James Levine, who was the director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, writes that we lose two hours of life for every hour that we sit in his book entitled “Get up”.(2)
Sitting, and sedentary lifestyles, increases the risk of certain cancers, according to a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, in 2014 called “Sedentary behavior increases the risk of certain cancers”. The study authored by Daniela Schmid, Ph.D and Graham Colditz, M.D, found that the risk of colon, lung, and endometrial cancers increased by as much as 10% for each 2 hour increase in sitting time.(3)
And a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by Patel et al, found that sitting for 6 or more hours a day led to earlier deaths in both men and women than those who sat for 3 hours or less.(4) With the average commute (one way) in Michigan at 24 minutes(5) (Julie Mack, published in MLive, 2018), and a typical 8 hour work day, plus an hour lunch, we’re at 10 hours of sitting-before we even get home for the day.
And unfortunately, simply being active in the evenings and on the weekends isn’t enough to reverse the negative effects of sitting (obesity being a negative side effect of living a sedentary lifestyle that can be reversed by being active outside of the work day).
So what can we do?
We can stand more! A study by the Mayo Clinic found that by standing an additional 6 hours (rather than sitting for those same 6 hours), would burn approximately 54 additional calories a day-that’s 22 pounds lost over four years(6) simply by replacing sitting with standing.
While not intending to be an advertisement for Varidesks and similar products, a $300 investment in a desk that can raise and allow you to work while standing can literally add years to your life. In fact, adding standing desks as the default work surface in offices would be a great way for employers to value their employees and positively affect the bottom line.
Healthier employees are more productive(7) and achieving even a 5% increase in productivity will achieve almost $3,000 per year in value per employee ($56,516 average annual salary in the US(8), multiplied by 5%). Resulting in a 1,000% return on the $300 standing desk investment during the first year.
Maybe instead of investing in more ergonomic chairs, we should be looking for a way to begin eliminating chairs from the workplace all together.