Tech & Work

Sitting at your desk could be killing you

If your job requires a lot of sitting, you could be putting your health at danger. Here are some steps to avoid this.

Sedentary lifestyles are often in the line of fire in a lot of health studies, but this one is pretty scary:

The American Journal of Epidemiology did a study in 2010 on the correlation between sitting and an individual's physical health. In the study, 53,440 men and 69,776 women were queried on time spent sitting and physical activity. The subjects were all disease free at enrollment. The authors identified 11,307 deaths in men and 7,923 deaths in women during the 14-year follow-up.

The findings:  Women who reported sitting for more than six hours during their leisure time versus less than three hours a day had an approximately 40% higher all-cause death rate, and men had an approximately 20% higher death rate.

(Well, now's a fine time to get this information. Why didn't they tell me this years ago? I would have planned on being a forest ranger instead of an editor/writer.)

So what can you do to combat this if you have to work for a living at a job that requires a lot of sitting? Here are some ideas:

Take frequent breaks. OSHA recommends that workers vary activities, change their position, and take short breaks every 20 minutes to rest muscles and increase blood circulation. Get a standing desk like this. Some studies have shown that working from an upright position may be better, metabolically speaking. (The serious fitness person can even purchase a treadmill desk. These only go about one mile per hour. For myself, I would be afraid I'd be too distracted (trying not to have a heart attack) to concentrate on work, but to each his own.) Have a walking meeting. If your group is kind of small, going for a walk while discussing topics is a good alternative.

For more suggestions, see this OSHA fact sheet.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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