Do you have a sedentary job where you sit at a desk day after day?
And then do you go home at night and sit some more, zoned out in front of the TV or back on the computer?
Multiple studies have found that sedentary behavior – including long unbroken periods of sitting – increases your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. Increasingly, however, experts are also cautioning that standing too long also presents challenges such as increased risk of back and foot problems.
The solution is balance. “The key is breaking up your activity throughout the day,” Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, told The Wall Street Journal. “Sitting all day and standing all day are both bad for you.”
Hedge recommends that for every 30 minutes working in an office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes. Even fidgeting may help: Recent research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that women who did not fidget had an increased risk of death.
And a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that men who spent 5 or more hours a day sitting were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who spent 2 hours a day or less sitting.
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So what can you do if your job or lifestyle keeps you in front of a computer for hours a day?
In addition to regular sustained exercise, take mini-breaks during every hour of sitting. Just standing for a minute or two can help reduce the negative effect of sitting.
- Stand up when talking on the phone.
- Walk to your colleague’s desk to deliver a message instead of sending an email.
- Set your computer to alert you once an hour to take a standing mini-break.
- Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling over to it in your chair.
- Take a walk on your lunch break.