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The Dangers of Sitting and Tips on How to Avoid Being Inactive at Work

Sitting is dangerous

Image credit: GAPCR

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"Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting" (source: The Huffington Post).

I was quite shocked when I learned this fact. It appears that Americans sit an average of 9.3 hours a day, but scientists believe all it takes is 6 hours a day to develop a heightened risk of serious medical issues, such as cancer and heart disease (source: DIY Genius).

As assistants our days fluctuate, which can include extended periods of time sitting in front of a computer, in the car, in meetings, etc., so I wanted to make sure you are made aware of this fact and know a few ways to keep yourself healthy.

One science-backed solution, according to an article on The Huffington Post, is to get a standing desk. A couple kinds I recommend based on my own research, which are now in our company's offices, are the Varidesk and Ergotron.

However, it's a bit more tricky than that. As an article in Forbes states, it's not standing all day that alleviates this issue, it's the micro movements, such as simply changing from sitting to standing. Varidesk has an app to prompt the user to sit or stand, so they achieve the right balance. There's also smart furniture called OfficeIQ that incorporates technology into its pieces which provides insight and monitors activity.

Another solution to try is to sit on a stability ball instead of a regular chair. You will engage your core muscles and work your abs. You are constantly changing positions, which helps your health immensely, through the much needed micro movements. If a stability ball won't work in your environment, a smaller alternative would be a balance disc (sometimes also known as a wobble cushion). It engages the same muscles and also provides instability to allow for constant micro movements.

You can also slightly alter your daily behavior. According to an article in Life Hacker, you just need to make sure you stand once every hour for at least 1-2 minutes. Make it a point to chug water, which helps to prompt walks to the bathroom. Walk over to someone you were going to email and talk to them in person instead. Or perhaps spend spurts of time tidying up your workspace (or a space in your principal's office or home).

It's easy to forget to get up and deliberately move sometimes, especially if you are deep in the flow of a project, so I recommend setting up reminders. An easy option is to set recurring alarms on your computer or phone. Another option I suggest is using a free app designed for such a purpose, such as Workrave or Dejal Time Out. The main point is to get in the habit of moving at regular intervals.

Inactivity in excess is dangerous, and I hope these tips help to make changes in your daily routine so you aren't part of the dangerous 6+ hour sitting average.

How do you prevent inactivity at work? Please share in the comments below!

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