November 18, 2009
Do you suffer from "sitting disease"?
I'm not much for reading (or heeding the advice of) women's magazines. But a friend sent me a recent Women's Health article that had me leaping from my chair.
Apparently sitting on your duff and staring at a computer screen all day is detrimental to far more than your spine and waistline. According to medical research cited in Women's Health, on average, Americans spend a staggering 56 hours a week in front of their computer screens, steering wheels, or televisions.
Among the article's more dire warnings, all attributed to various studies and medical experts:
"The less you move, the less blood sugar your body uses; research shows that for every two hours spent on your backside per day, your chance of contracting diabetes goes up by 7 percent. Your risk for heart disease goes up, too, because enzymes that keep blood fats in check are inactive. You're also more prone to depression: With less blood flow, fewer feel-good hormones are circulating to your brain."
"We've become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not do enough to counteract the detrimental effects of eight, nine, or 10 hours of sitting."
"The longer you spend sitting each day, the more likely you are to die an early death -- no matter how fit you are."
The article even goes so far as to affix a name our country's sedentary syndrome: sitting disease.
Short of getting a new job, what can you do to ward off such symptoms?
Stand up from your desk every half hour. Pace, stretch, do some yoga, jump up and down, anything to get the blood flowing.
Walk and talk. Forget about grabbing a conference room. If you need to brainstorm with a colleague, take a walk with them (up and down the hallway if you have to). Likewise, stand or pace while talking on the phone.
Use a standing workstation. There's no law that says you have to work on your computer sitting down. This Web Worker Daily blog post tells you how to create a makeshift standing desk on the cheap.
Limit TV viewing to two hours a day. Even better, watch while exercising.
Readers, what to do you do to break up long periods of sitting on the job? And don't say, "Walk to the candy machine."
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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