“Is Sitting the New Smoking?”

Come on! Really? Could this statement possibly be true? A lot of recent research has been done to evaluate the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Well…here is the jist of it. 


Let’s start with the body position. About 80% of americans have desk jobs or a job that requires you to sit for a long period of time. And when I say long time, I’m talking close to 12 to 14 hours a day. HOLY MOLY BATMAN (in the Robin voice)! Due to gravity pushing you down onto the chair, your spine is experiencing more compressive force than if you were standing with your muscles engaged to hold you up. Leaning over to type on the computer is exaggerating the kyphotic curve in your upper back which adds unnecessary pressure to your organs and limits lung capacity for breathing. And last but not least, increased tightness in your hip flexors, glutes, quads, upper back, and chest, which can lead to discomfort and injury. This is just a look from the outside.


What about the inside? Ok! Lets get geeky! “According to science writer Gretchen Reynolds, a recent Swedish study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that when you sit all day, your telomeres (the tiny caps on the ends of DNA strands) get shorter, which, you can imagine, is not a good thing. As telomeres get shorter, the rate at which the body ages and decays speeds up. Conversely, the study found “that the telomeres in [those] who were sitting the least had lengthened. Their cells seemed to be growing physiologically younger.” The shortening of DNA strands could lead to diabetes, heart disease, and possibly shorten your life span. 


So how do you prevent this from happening? Here are a few simple tips to try during the week:


  • Set an alarm every 30-60 minutes to get up and move (the more you move, the less compressed your joints will be and the happier your body will feel).
  • If your company can supply it, request a stand up desk. This is a great alternative to a regular desk. There are tons of unique options.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Optimally we would all average 10,000 steps per day. Use those two legs!
  • Arrange your desk so you can sit in the correct anatomical position. Move your desktop/laptop high enough so you’re not rounding forward towards the screen and close enough to you that so your spine remains neutral while you type.


These are just some simple changes to your everyday work-life that could add years to your life.