All rise: How standing more often could add years to your life

November 30, 2012

Have you ever seen the episode of The Office where Michael Scott is trying to prove that an office job is just as dangerous as a warehouse job? Turns out he wasn’t all that far off. In recent months, the news has been filled with reports that sitting all day can be very harmful to our bodies, and can even lead to premature death.

While Michael Scott tried to make the point that office life can lead to dire circumstances caused by depression, the danger is actually physical and has to do with sitting behind a desk all day. People who sit six hours or more per day are 40 percent more likely to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than three hours.

Additionally, people who have “sitting jobs” are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared to their non-sitting counterparts. Part of the problem is that sitting requires almost no energy. In fact, it takes more energy to chew gum than it does to sit, according to the infographic. Electrical activity in the legs also stops, and after two hours of sitting, good cholesterol drops by 20 percent.

Now that you are sufficiently scared… stand up! No really, experts say that one of the best ways to avoid the risks of a sedentary workday is by breaking up the time you spend sitting. In other words, make a point to walk over to the printer, get up to grab a glass of water, and talk to co-workers in person instead of emailing as many times throughout the day as possible.

A few other ideas from experts are to stand up every time you make a phone call; ask your firm for a stand-up desk; hold walking or standing meetings; exercise during your lunch break; always take the stairs instead of the elevator; set a timer to remind you to do small exercises at your desk; and trade your chair for an exercise ball.

Busy seeing clients all day? Walk around your office in between meetings.  Reading contracts all day? Why not march in place while reading!

The bottom line is that Michael Scott was right: office jobs can be downright dangerous. But making small changes to your daily routine could make a big difference, and maybe even add years to your life.