In a society inundated with laptops, remote controls, food deliveries and even wireless printers, it's not difficult to make a habit of sitting for hours at a time. In fact, we sit for more hours a day than we sleep, averaging 13 hours and 8 hours respectively. Many people don't realize sedentary behavior is so detrimental to our health that health professionals often refer to sitting as the smoking of our generation.

Problems such as not processing enough glucose and lipase - which breaks down fat - and a higher risk of metabolic syndrome - which increases the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and type II diabetes - are associated with prolonged sedentary behavior. A recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who sit more than six hours a day for 15 years have up to 40 percent greater risk of death. These statistics have led endocrinologist James Levine to describe this phenomenon as "sitting disease."

Unfortunately for corporate America, the "disease" is currently affecting more people than ever, as there has been an 83 percent increase in sedentary jobs since 1950 according to the American Heart Association.

Moreover, studies have found that negative effects of sitting are independent of short bursts of vigorous exercise. Though exercise is important to health for a variety of reasons, the relationship between mortality and sedentary behavior is not affected by physical activity levels, according to a 2010 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. If two people follow the same vigorous exercise regime but one ambles around a shoe store all day and the other has a desk job, the shoe salesman will have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, said Mayo Clinic cardiologist Martha Grogan. The key is to intersperse activity throughout the day.

In light of this research, employees with desk jobs should look for ways to break up sedentary behavior during the workday. Though pricey ergonomic chairs may ease back pain, standing up and walking around at least a few minutes every hour is most effective toward combatting cardiovascular problems and improving overall health.

"Just get up and take a 10 minute walk," Grogan said. "You probably won't miss anything."

The Price of Improved Office Health



and Work
Increases physical activity and may help with weight loss

Treadmill desks

"Doctors have shown that people reading images on a treadmill are just as accurate if not more accurate [than people at a desk]," Grogan said.

  • Burns 100 more calories per hour compared to sitting
  • Can reduce obesity and health care costs
  • Typically does not hinder work performance




and Work
Increases metabolic rate and burns calories

Standing desks

"I noticed I could [stand and work] for a long, long time if I just set it up like 'Oh, I'm gonna do this instead of sitting in a chair,'" Grogan said.

  • Stimulates blood flow
  • Breaks down fats
  • Processes blood sugar faster

Source: greenmoxie



and Work
Slightly more support but comparable levels of discomfort

Ergonomic chairs

"These chairs are designed to help the onset of low back conditions that not only affect patients' well-being but also workplace productivity," said Kevin McNamara, clinic director of Galt Chiropractic Office.

  • Provides lower back support and minimizes stress on the lumbar spine
  • Assists with good posture
  • Not all studies have found a significant decline in discomfort

Source: gizmag



and Work
May burn more calories, but no significant benefits

Stability balls

"Stability balls activate your core muscles," McNamara said. "But if under-inflated they can put stress on those lower back muscles."

  • Does not improve posture or significantly ease discomfort
  • May burn slightly more calories than sitting in a chair
  • May increase core strength

Source: The Organic Beauty



and Work
Lowers risk of heart attack and stroke

Wander around the office

"Even five to 10 minutes of standing up and breaking up sitting seems to be helpful," Grogan said.

  • Cognitive benefits
  • Activates large standing muscles
  • Results in metabolic and caloric improvements