The fight against sitting disease in our corporate culture
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A press release from BMJ Open indicates that cutting daily sitting time to less than 3 hours might extend life by 2 years. BMJ Open is an online-only, open access general medical journal, dedicated to publishing medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas.
Government statistics suggest that almost half of Americans sit more than 6 hours a day and 65% say they spend more than 2 hours a day watching TV. The phenomenon has come to be known as “Sitting Disease” and describes the sedentary lifestyle many Americans lead.
While the term disease may come off a little strong, it is no stretch to say that overly sedentary lifestyles do have ties to our health. Think about how often we sit during the day: at our desks during work hours, in our cars when we travel, at home during meals or watching television.
Understanding that the workforce spends the majority of their waking hours striving to meet and exceed the expectations of their job description, cutting TV time will not be enough to impact a change, nor is cutting all TV time and other sitting time a reasonable expectation.
So what can we do during the work day to reduce the impacts of sitting disease?
Endocrinologist James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, was recently featured in a U.S Today blog and discussed the phenomenon and steps we can take to change the trend. Some of Dr. Levine’s suggestions include:
- Pace when talking on the phone.
- Climb stairs whenever they can.
- Stand while talking to a friend, colleague or even folding laundry.
- Have walk-and-talk meetings during the day instead of sedentary meetings.
- Get a self-monitoring device that alerts when you have sat too long.
- Spread your walk out into small segments of time. You can take a quick jog or walk around the block before your morning shower; a 15- to 30-minute walk at lunch; and a 15-minute catch-up walk after work with your partner.
- Some businesses offer treadmills at people’s desks or treadmill-enhanced conference rooms. There are steppers that slip under your desk and can be used to step on during a telephone call.
The idea of walking, standing and moving more during working hours is a paradigm shift that needs to be lead from the top. American corporate culture has dictated that someone should be sitting when they are meeting or answering phones or producing documents, as so on. When someone is not at their desk during the workday it is often viewed as unproductive. According to Dr. Levine, the data suggests that productivity actually improves with such a cultural change.
(Photo credited to gothamist.com)
DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, and based on particular situations, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice, financial advice and/or the advice of a licensed insurance or certified human resource professional.
© Connelly, Carlisle, Fields & Nichols 2012