The New Health Epidemic: Sitting Disease

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Sitting all day is linked to harmful effects of our overall health, and it can cause and/or substantially worsen many back or neck problems.

Global studies show we spend an average of 7.7 hours a day sitting.1 How much time do you actually spend sitting in an average day?

The fix? Incorporate a stand up desk, or convert your existing desk to having a standup option so that you can stand for at least part of the day. Your spine - and your overall health - will thank you.

Why a standup desk?

  • People who sit most of the day are at an elevated risk for non-accidental back injuries (See Work Ergonomics: Minimize Back Injuries). Load on the discs in your spine is actually less when you are standing versus when you are sitting (intradiscal load 100 kg vs 140 kg sitting).2 If you suffer from lumbar degenerative disc disease or other spine problems, this difference in pressure can make a big difference.
  • Studies show that prolonged sitting leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, depression, and early death.3
  • Naturally, when we stand we fidget and move around more than we would if we were sitting. Use this calorie-burn calculator to see how many more calories you'll burn by standing for all or part of your workday - it adds up! I tried it and the weekly incremental calorie burn I experience now by using a standup desk is 830 extra calories per week, or about a pound a month!
  • According to a study that examined mortality in women, those who are inactive and sitting for more than 6 hours a day are 94% more likely to die prematurely.5 Men - you are not off the hook! Your sedentary lifestyles increase your risk of cardiovascular mortality by 82%.1
  • Standing while you work on your computer requires the core muscles to be engaged. A strong core leads to better overall health and better back health.
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Start Working at a Standup Desk - Your Body will Thank you!

Here is how to counteract the potentially negative effects of Sitting Disease:

  • Purchase (or make) a standup desk, and make sure to follow these guidelines to maintaining healthy standing posture: Good Posture Helps Reduce Back Pain. Sit-to-stand desks are also growing in popularity, giving you flexible options throughout the day.
  • Start out alternating between standing and sitting. While you are sitting, office ergonomics can help lower the risks associated with prolonged sitting in an office chair, such as neck strain, lower back pain, and leg pain.
  • At first, only stand for 2 hours each day to allow your muscles to get used to the new arrangement.
  • To make sure you stand…Assign an activity like phone or email time to standing only, or download a free alarm or put one in your mobile phone to remind you when to stand.

Take the first steps to living a healthier lifestyle by committing to stand a little more every day. Also, get up and move around as often as possible. When sitting, make sure to take advantage of an ergonomic chair.

How will standing more change your life?

Learn more:


  2. Ebraheim, Nabil A. MD Nachemson AL Disc Pressure Measurements Spine 1981
  3. Pronk NP, Katz AS, Lowry M, Payfer JR. Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:110323.
  4. Levine JA, et al. Move a Little, Lose a Lot. New York, N.Y.: Crown Publishing Group; 2009:26.
  5. "Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults." Alpa V. Patel, Leslie Bernstein, Anusila Deka, Heather Spencer Feigelson, Peter T. Campbell, 5 Susan M. Gapstur, Graham A. Colditz, and Michael J. Thun. Am J Epid Published online July 22, 2010.
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