Many Americans live sedentary lifestyles, characterized by minimal physical activity throughout the day. Especially to corporate employees and students that sit at their desks for an extended amount of period, this is a common routine. In fact, studies have shown that the average American sits down for six to eight hours each day.
Both the lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting are detrimental to our health because humans are not made to sit down, but to be moving physically. Prolonged sitting is directly connected to many illnesses, such as weight gain, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, colon cancer, poor circulation in legs, disk damage, and damage to the spine’s natural arch and posture. In the worst case, sitting can kill us faster.
Keith Diaz, associate research scientist in Columbia University Department of Medicine who wrote about the new study on prolonged sitting, claims “[w]e found that there wasn’t a threshold or cutoff where one’s risk for death dramatically increased…To give you a specific number, those who sat for more than 13 hours per day had a 2-fold (or 200%) greater risk of death compared to those who sat for less than about 11 hours per day.”
But how can we avoid sitting down? It is impossible for employees and students to drastically change the amount of time they spend at their desks sitting. But there are many different ways to help avoid these negative health effects. Experts highly recommend changing only a small portion of our lifestyle. For people who have to sit often, sitting in the correct posture is a better alternative to slouching. Taking small breaks between sitting sessions and stretching can also help prevent the poor blood circulation in our legs and restore our healthy sitting postures. Although these efforts cannot drastically outdo the hours spent sitting down, they can make us stand up from our chairs.
Surprisingly, exercise is not included in the recommendations. Regardless of how much we exercise, we can still be in the risk of early death if we have been sitting for a long time.
Currently, many corporations are changing the work and office environment for their employees. By providing standing desks, corporations are able to see a great improvement in employee performance and productivity, while employees are able to condense their long hours of sitting. These positive changes can significantly help people restore their healths.