By Brent L. Handel Q.C.
It may seem odd for a law firm dedicated to personal injury and fatal accident claims to be talking about the health issues of sitting.
However, after being in a serious motor vehicle accident and suffering grievous injuries, returning to health becomes of paramount concern for our clients. Therefore, it is important for people to be aware of the new research on the adverse health effects of sitting all day long, or a sedentary lifestyle.
It is becoming apparent from the research that sitting may be as bad for us as smoking, and just as people were unaware in the 1950’s that smoking was bad for them, people are unaware of how sitting for 6, 7 or 8 hours per day can have huge adverse health consequences.
Alarmingly, even people who work out regularly are not immune from the adverse effects of lengthy sitting periods at a desk. In one sense, we should not be surprised to think that 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every other day will somehow make us immune from the effects of being sedentary 70 to 80 hours a week.
Sitting all day long results in chronic inflammation rising, which can stay elevated even after you start moving. Heart disease risk soars up to two and a half times higher, good cholesterol falls up to 20%, blood flow slows as the red blood cells in your legs begin to clump together from lengthy sitting, and insulin sensitivity plunges up to 40%. Finally, your risk for diabetes doubles regardless of how much you exercise.
Therefore, one option is to install a stand-up desk. Adjustable stand-up desks or permanent stand-up desks force a sedentary employee to stand for the majority of the day. In one study, employees who were outfitted with sit-stand units lowered their sitting time by 91 minutes per day, and boosted non-exercise activity movements in their legs and arms by 33%. In a classic case of, “you don’t know how bad you felt until you feel better”, many also reported being more alert and less depressed, not only at work but after they left work.
So the benefits are not only for your health, but they can also result in increased energy and improved mood.
Hopefully as the research continues to compile, the sedentary lifestyle of sitting all day long will go the way of smoking, something that is accepted as an obvious adverse health activity.