As I type this, I am seated in my comfy leather chair. I’m sure that many of you who are reading this are also situated in some kind of seat. How long have you been sitting there? When is the last time you got up and took a stroll around the office?
It is a fact that many people’s jobs these days require them to spend a copious amount of time in front of a computer. Writers, Coders, Editors, Secretaries – the list goes on. According to reports that have been flooding in during the last year or so, the more hours you spend during the day sitting, the greater you risk of early death.
First, Men’s Health reported on a study that concluded this fact. Then the New York times reported on another study that found that people had a greater risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes when they sat an extra 6-8 hours a day.
The posture of sitting itself probably isn’t worse than any other type of daytime physical inactivity, like lying on the couch watching “Wheel of Fortune.” But for most of us, when we’re awake and not moving, we’re sitting. This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol to fall.
So all this bad stuff over a lifetime adds up, according to researchers.
Today comes this awesome new infographic courtesy of medicalbillingnacoding.org. Yes, the information provided is scary, especially for someone who likes to sit as much as I do. But the visuals are pretty top notch, especially the presentation of “sitting” as a jagged, hooded demon poised dramatically over the head of an unsuspecting office worker.
Many propose stand up desks as a way to solve this problem. Others suggest frequent breaks from sitting on the job to perform various quick exercises. As someone with terrible knees, standing desks make me cringe. Maybe I’ll rethink the whole jumping jacks idea.