The human body was not designed to sit at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week – it was designed to move. As a result, you probably won’t be too surprised to hear that this newly-adopted sedentary lifestyle is having a dramatic impact on our health. As recent as the 1960s, nearly half of all jobs required physical activity. Today, thanks to all of the technological advances made over the last 50 years that have allowed the productivity of humans to skyrocket, only 20% do. Instead of moving, today we can just sit back and let our machines do all of the heavy lifting (and oftentimes thinking) for us.
Here are the shocking truths about sitting at your desk that you need to know:
Sitting at Your Desk All Day Can Make You Sick
There’s been a host of medical research done on this subject that has shown that the more time you spend sitting daily, the more likely you are to suffer from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and an early death. Pretty heavy, huh?
You may be thinking, “but I workout and lead an active lifestyle, this doesn’t apply to me.” I’m afraid it does. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, even if you’re very active during your free time, if you have prolonged periods of inactivity, (i.e. sitting at your desk for eight hours) you have a 15 percent greater risk of dying within three years than those who sat for fewer than four hours a day.
Sitting at Your Desk All Day Can Make You Fat
Obese people tend to sit for 2.5 more hours per day than people at a normal weight. Let’s think about what happens inside the body when we sit:
- The electrical activity in our legs shuts off.
- Our fat reducing enzymes drop by 90%.
- Calorie burning slows to 1 calorie per minute.
- Our muscles atrophy.
- Our metabolism slows down.
With all of this taking place, it’s no wonder we continue to pack on the pounds when most of us spend at least 30% of our lives sitting at our desk.
Sitting at Your Desk All Day Can Make You Dumb
New York Times, scientists discovered that when we sit all day, “electrical activity in the muscles drops… leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects.” Sabine Schaefer, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany, studied the effect of walking on working memory. What he found was that walking increases your resources of energy, which you can then invest in thinking. In other words, getting up from your desk and walking around throughout the day can increase your ability to think more clearly at work.
The Good News
The good news is that we don’t have to revert to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to combat this silent assassin. Many of the problems can be solved, researchers say, simply by getting up. Here’s a few tips to help you to counterbalance a day of sitting at your desk:
- Stand up and stretch once an hour.
- Instead of sending an email, walk down the hall and talk to your co-workers.
- Go for a walk around the block.
- Try standing up as much as you can, like when you’re talking on the phone.
- If you have the money, invest in a standup desk or try a treadmill desk.
- Try a stability ball. Use one that’s properly sized so that the hips and knees are at 90 degrees.
With every advancement we make, there will always be positive and negative effects. While we didn’t have the foresight to know how the advent of the computer and the internet would affect us physiologically, we know now. We also now know what we can do about it.
Will you take a few minutes to stand up from your desk today?