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The sedentary lifestyle: how to avoid putting your health at risk

Supplier: Ergomotion
29 October, 2014

Remaining seated in front of a computer is for many part and parcel of the working day. This despite there being health risks associated – obesity and diabetes, to name just a few.

As part of its ongoing "standing desk" series, Ergomotion looks at the most dangerous and unhealthy consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, and how you can mitigate against these by including a few essential activities in your daily routine.

Welcome to our third and final part of our standing desk blog series. We hope we've provided you with an invaluable resource you can refer to again and again.

If you need to catch up, start with "Pt 1: the history of the standing desk", followed by "Pt 2: standing, sit stand, height adjustable – what's the difference?".

All caught up? Right, let's go…

Stand up when you read these facts:

The dangers of sitting: our sedentary lifestyle

Studies over the past few years have found clear correlations between those who spend a large part of their day sitting and many health risks. Here's a recap of some of the most prevalent dangers of sitting.

Is your sedentary lifestyle putting your health at risk?

Those extra kilos can sneak up on you

Did you know that when you're sitting your calorie-burning rate can drop to just one per minute?

That's insanely low. However that number rises each time you stand up, take the stairs, go for a quick walk, pound the pavement (or treadmill), or any other movement that activates those muscles which have switched off.

A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to belly fat (the dangerous kind)

This is the kind that can greatly increase the chance of heart disease.

Why? In short, everyone has fat cells, and the purpose of these cells is to store energy and secrete hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. Unfortunately overweight people have larger fat cells which can shut down, making insulin production (the hormone that regulates bloody-sugar) difficult.

Fat cells (scientifically known as visceral cells) can also lead to inflammation and artery clogging, resulting in high blood pressure and even heart attack and disease.

You're also at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (because blood-sugar levels are imbalanced), liver failure (due to the close proximity of this organ to the belly fat), and even sleep apnoea.

To add insult to injury, a study performed by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a correlation between this belly fat and the development of certain kinds of cancers.

Exercise may not necessarily negate the damage of sitting

Yep, this is a harsh reality.

Australians are changing their attitudes towards healthy eating and regular exercise, which in itself is wonderful to see.

However, those hours you're spending in the gym aren't necessarily cancelling out the hours of damage you're doing to your body when you're sitting at your desk all day.

In fact a recent study found that for every hour you sit, you negate eight per cent of the health benefits of exercising.

A study way back in 1949 compared bus drivers (the "sitters") and bus conductors (the "standers"), and found that the conductors had around half the risk of developing heart disease compared to the drivers, due in part to their lifestyle. The drivers sat for most of the day, while the conductors climbed up and down the bus steps, hitting around 500-700 steps per day.

Standing all day isn't the answer, either

Just as sitting for eight hours straight wreaks havoc on our health and bodies, standing non-stop for the same amount of time is no better either.

The key here is switching it up. Regularly alternating between sitting and standing throughout the eight hours you're in the office is the best way to beat a sedentary lifestyle and protect your body from the nasties we're gone through above.

Solve it

Moving throughout the day needn't be an inconvenient or arduous task. Here are two simple ways you can accomplish this:

Move your muscles

When you're sitting, flex, jiggle, stretch, contract and extend your legs. Raise your legs so that your calves are parallel to the ground and your feet are pointing up. Hold it for 30 seconds. You might start to quiver, but that's okay. After 30 seconds, slowly lower them, rest for a moment, then back up they go. Repeat this 8-10 times (or as often as you can) throughout the day.

Skip the escalator or lift and power up that staircase. A brisk five minute walk a couple of times a day will re-energise you, and drinking more water will encourage you to get up and go the bathroom more often.

Regular breaks

No matter where you're sitting and for how long, regular breaks from doing so can greatly contribute to a lower risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

If you're sitting at a desk or curled up on the couch with your laptop we challenge you – right now. Up you get. Go for a walk around the office (or your house). Shoot up and down a flight of stairs a couple of times. How long did that take? Not more than 60 seconds, right?

Ready for a standing desk?

If you feel restricted in your office to take regular walking breaks, a standing desk gives you the ultimate freedom to alternate between sitting and standing throughout your work day. The best practise is to alternate regularly: every half-hour or hour.

Our desks are most commonly known as standing desks, but they literally are height adjustable desks.

Will a standing desk become an office distraction?

Not in the slightest.

Why? Because the quiet, motorised desk adjusts with just a push of a button, and you can program in your ideal standing and sitting heights, so you can set it and forget it.

The desk is completely level, so you won't ever have to worry about spilling your coffee or a precariously-balanced computer screen.

The misconception that standing desks are a new trend is now well and truly outdated. Ergonomic office furniture is a major part of a harmonious, healthy office or home.

We hope you'll take away the vital facts about the dangers of prolonged sitting, and the benefits a standing desk can bring to you and your employees.

If you'd like to enquire about our range of electric, height adjustable desks, or any of our other ergonomic office furniture and accessories, please give us a call or fill in the enquiry form.