Sitting Is The New Smoking

By Erin Reidman – CC’s Staff

Catchy title, right? Unfortunately, according to researchers, it may very well be true.
We all know that our world most often happens in front of us. We work, text, watch, and even exercise primarily in the front plane of our body. We also understand that you can’t necessarily avoid this, but how can we prevent the future complications? Or better yet, how can we optimize our work place to help this? Many workers don’t have many options and are required to work in front of a desk most of their day. Insert  Standing desk. These became “all the rage” a few years ago and have been very beneficial for a lot of people. But how do you do it right? How long? What if I feel myself always standing on one leg? Now my feet hurt. Fear not, I give you Standing Desk 101.

1. Move. Frequently
a. Just like static sitting is not great, static standing for prolonged periods isn’t ideal either. Your goal should be to move in any way. Whether that means alternating standing and sitting, doing mini squats and calf raises, wall sits or laps around your cubicle for 1 minute, just do it. Take the stairs, park farther away, pace around during a phone call, walk over to the person vs email. Yes, you’re busy and that takes time, time is money. But poor health costs a lot more.

2. Body awareness
a. Be cognizant of your posture when standing. Make sure you don’t rely too heavily on one leg. Mind those shoulders as they start to creep up towards your ears. Shift weight back and forth. When in doubt, take a seated break.

3. How long? 2-4 hours TOTAL
a. Experts recommend the sweet spot for total stand time during a work day is 2-4 hours1
b. This is where some miscommunication lies. The total time is 2-4 hours; however, it is not recommended to go from a sedentary seated 8-hour work day to static standing 4 hour stretches. Ouch. Remember #1 is to move, frequently!

4. Progress into it
a. Researchers recommend working up to the 4 hours/day time, and breaking it up with frequent rests if needed.
b. Pay attention to your physical sensations and use those as a guide. Don’t create a foot pain problem to try and fix your back-pain problem. Your low back and core likely lack stabilization if you are used to sitting for 8 hours straight. They will need time to adjust.
c. if you are used to sitting 8 hours/day; respect your boundaries and ease into it.

5. Remember why
a. It’s easy to get caught up in a phone call or computer work, but don’t let yourself forget why you need to do this.
b. Physical inactivity at the workplace does increase overall risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes2
c. That twinge in your low back, that ache behind your shoulder blades, or the neck that never seems to release. These are all symptoms of postural dysfunction. It is also likely to progress to a chronic condition if not addressed early on through movement and/or skilled PT intervention. Incorporating movement into your day will help reduce the risk of developing chronic pain.

6. Take responsibility
a. Sedentary work habits won’t be altered by new furniture alone. It’s up to you to make the choice for movement and health.
b. Take it out of the office and incorporate all the above into your leisure and recreational activities!

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24421370
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25620219
3. https://blog.dacadoo.com/2016/10/28/sitting-new-smoking/

Post Author: Erin Reidman, PT

Erin is a DPT, wife, and mom of two wild boys. When not at work, you can find Erin teaching fitness classes at the YMCA or daydreaming of the next mountain biking/rock climbing adventure with her main squeeze.


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