Sitting Is The New Smoking

The above image is taken from a great infographic on Techcrunch

It’s message is simple: The more you sit, the worse you’ll feel.  Recent studies suggest that of all of our bad contemporary habits, sitting all day is a killer.  With the rise of the information age, more of us earn a living sitting down, working on computers.  Our parents were more likely to sit less than a quarter as much as us and their parents more even less sedentary.  

So why isn’t this post titled, “Cube Farms Are The New Coal Mines” ??? 

Because sitting all day is your choice, not your fate.  You can beat this disease risk by tweaking the way you work.  It’s my 2012 resolution to sit at least fifty percent less than I did last year.  That’s just as good as kicking my weekly french fries or losing ten pounds!  Here are several ways you can sit less and live longer: 

1.  Stand Up While Working On Computers.
 There are several great standing desks, including hydrolic ones where you can sit (during meetings with others) or stand.  My old boss at Yahoo, Anil, had his desk permanently setup where he stood while he worked.  He had a tall stool for those times he needed to take a load off.  He also had a foot rest, as this is the proper way to work on computers while standing.  If you can’t do any of this, yet work on a laptop, occassionally pull it out of your docking station or off your desk and work on a bar counter or some other standing friendly surface.  

2. Talk Daily Walking Breaks.  Walking is great exercise, and according to many doctors, a great prescription for too much sitting.  Each day I carve out 20-30 minutes for ‘walk-time’ either outside or on a treadmill at my gym.  When walking outside, I frequently conduct my daily (no-paperwork or web access required) phone calls.  It’s made a huge difference both in terms of my health and my mood state when I was finished. 

3. Convert Work Into Walking.  Conduct phone calls or meetings standing up and/or walking around.  (You’ll have shorter ones as a result!) Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator.  Get up out of your chair to ask a quick question of a colleague, instead of sending an email 200 feet.  

Change your habits, and beyond health, you’ll be better at work.  To be creative and confident, the formula for excellence, you need to feel good.  Sitting all day drains your energy, creates distracting physical pain and reduces your endurance.  And it’s your choice.  You quit smoking, and don’t miss the smoking breaks – you won’t miss sitting either!