You may want to sit down for this one... sitting more than three hours a day increases your risk of dying. Now stand up!
According to a study published this week in the online journal BMJ Open, which analyzed five underlying studies of nearly 167,000 people over a range of four to 14 years, sitting down for more than three hours a day can cut a person's life by two years, even if he or she is physically active and avoids dangerous habits like smoking and drinking. In addition, watching TV for more than two hours a day can decrease one's life expectancy by another 1.4 years, said the report.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Katzmarzyk told the Wall Street Journal, "Try to stand as much as you can. Typically when you're on the telephone you can stand with speaker phone. Instead of emailing someone in the office, just get up and go talk to them." He also told WebMD, that "It's comparable to obesity, and it's almost to the level of smoking. We need to turn that around and engineer sitting out of our lives."
The average American sits or is sedentary for 55 percent of their day. Many of us work long hours, eat at our desks and don't come up for air for hours, but let's not fret too much, because small changes can make a big impact. Some tips to keep you active during the day, from behind the desk or inside the cube:
- Take that phone call standing up
- Do a few squats every hour
- Eat your lunch outside or away from your desk
- Join the water cooler crowd
- Walk, instead of a call or email
- Wear comfortable shoes - heels included!
- Set aside specific times to move. Set an alarm on your cell phone to tell you to stop working and start moving.
We ask our Hot Sheet Panel, what do you do to stay active during the work day? What does your company do to incentivize activity and wellness?
As a registered dietitian, I often urge people to eat less and move more. The movement part is based on evidence that activity burns calories, helps lose/maintain weight, and prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. This study, however, gives a new dimension to activity: longevity. In my corporate wellness work I see more companies providing lunchtime workshops like yoga and stretching to get employees out of their chairs. Others subsidize gym memberships. Whether you're a CEO or a student, one thing is clear sitting less may not only improve health it may increase longevity!
Pat Baird, MA, RD, FADA
Registered dietitian, nutrition consultant, media spokesperson and writer
Past Board Member, New York Women in Communications
I have a refillable water cup that I received during NBCUniversal New Hire Orientation and drink from all day. Not only does it keep me hydrated, but getting up every hour or so to refill it (and take a necessary bathroom break!) also gets me up from my desk for a walk through the office. It's a great opportunity to run into people for a chat and stop by co-workers' desks to check in with them. In a few months, NBCUniversal will also have "Healthy Week," a company-wide initiative to encourage healthy lifestyles. The messaging will be prevalent across our networks, cable channels, digital platforms, and offices with special events and creative signage.
Marketing Coordinator, NBC Owned Television Stations
New York Women in Communications Foundation Board Member
I already have a herniated disc that acts up if I sit. So I put my laptop on the bar of the kitchen and work standing during the day. They now have ergonomic desks that can be adjusted to your ideal height for typing standing up, and I recommend that companies invest in those.
I usually only sit at meals, and otherwise I'm always pacing on the phone or standing while I type.
I also use stairs at work which help with exercise spurts if I don't have time for a full aerobic workout after work.
PR Consultant, Tomic Communications
New York Women in Communications President, 1996-1997