New research just out says sitting less than three hours a day could add two years to your life. Now, some are opting for a new way of working, one they say helps them stay active as well as productive.
Reporters and photographers here at WINK are constantly hustling from scene to scene. Anchors and production crew are moving around the studio during each newscast. But to get the news on air, it requires a lot of typing and sitting.
"Out of my 8-hour shift, I probably sit 7 1/2 hours," WINK News 11 p.m. producer Amber Lee said.
Lee spends her day looking up stories, writing scripts, and pulling video for her show. She worries about what all that sitting could mean for her health. So a few months ago, she decided to start taking walking breaks.
"I literally do laps around our parking lot and just try to get the blood flowing, get myself moving a little bit," Lee said.
These breaks could mean the difference between life or death. Researchers at Australia's Sax Institute interviewed more than 222,000 adults. They found that those who sat four to eight hours a day increased their risk of dying within the next 3 years by two percent more than those who sat for less.
They found a 15 percent greater risk for those who sat eight to 11 hours a day, and for those who sat 11 or more hours a day, the risk of dying within three years increased by 40 percent! What's even worse? Those who sit a lot and regularly exercise, still face health risks. It's the sitting that's the problem.
But what if your job has you tied to a desk all day? The answer could actually be in your desk.
"When you are sitting, you are in a triple flex position your ankles, knees and hips are flexed all day," Dr. Salvatore Lacagnina said. "Your whole spine is out of normal alignment."
A few months ago, Dr. Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness at Lee Memorial Health System decided he couldn't "stand" sitting for long periods of time, so he opted for a different type of desk, one allowing him to sit or stand.
"I can do all my computer work, I can stand and talk on the phone," Lacagnina said. "Surprisingly, I felt better standing up more."
He spends at least half the day on his feet. Another plus, it's also a mild form of exercise. A Mayo Clinic study found you can burn an additional 340 calories a day if you spend just two hours of your work day standing instead of sitting.
"The stress level is actually lower. People say they feel better at the end of the day. They don't go home feeling stiff and tired," Lacagnina said.
Relax the Back at Coconut Pointe has been selling similar adjustable "sit to stand" desks since the store opened in 2007.
"We are made to move, that's what we are designed to do, and as computers entered the marketplace and people became more tied to computers, the work posture of individuals became more static," co-owner Julie Nodland said.
With the flip of a switch the desks move up and down. Depending on the type, they can support anywhere from 160 t0 350 pounds. While the desks aren't quite as popular in the U.S. as they are in Europe, Nodland says the trend is catching on.
"When you are sitting and not moving, your body, metabolism and blood flow kind of goes into almost like a hibernation state, so blood flow isn't moving," Nodland said. "It can increase the incidence of heart disease, it can increase the incidence of obesity, because people are not moving enough, so they are not metabolizing food. It can increase the incidence of diabetes because sugar is processed differently in your body, and all of those are risk factors for early death."
Amber Lee's walking breaks have caught on with her co-workers.
"I've brought in two of my other producers and we try to take walks at least three times a week," Lee said. "We are known as the Charlie's Angels now."
So next time you're stuck standing in line, or without a seat on the bus, don't be mad. Consider yourself, and your health, lucky.
If you're interested in getting a sit-to-stand desk of your own, they generally run about $900 to $2,000. But, if that's not in your price range, you can always look for high tables or build one of your own using ordinary items like boxes. Just make sure the desk is even with your elbows.
If you have any questions for Dr. Lacagnina about changing your own work habits, you can e-mail him at DrSal@LeeMemorial.org.