how not to die if you must work seated all day

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 08, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Lately I am comming across more and more news about how bad it is sitting all day long. It seems that you cannot even excercise away the damage, not even with a daily morning run.

Many of the articles quote you must walk more, however I wonder how effective it is just standing up. because of work, sometimes I must stay several days at home, with my computer, during 14 hours every day. I go out for a shor walk but that is not enough.

I noticed however that having a tablet really helps. because with it I can do many things standing up and walking around my room. Does working this way really helps?

as far as I know you are 3 times more likely to die if you sit 8 hours a day. How effective is it just to stand up?

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on July 08, 2012
at 11:56 PM

That quote is similar to an old Zen saying: Best way to live long is not grow up.

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on July 08, 2012
at 11:55 PM

Related to Divrgurl13's comment - articles touting the benefits of standing desks attract a LOT of comments talking about how idiotic and painful standing all day is, everything from nurses to construction trades would love to be allowed to sit a couple days a week ...



on July 08, 2012
at 01:11 PM

I would have to agree that if you are that concerned about it, you should find another job. There are plenty of landscapers, farmers, and construction companies that could keep you very active. Remember though, these articles probably don't take a look at the people who have done back breaking work for an entire career and have irreparable damage to their bodies as well.



on July 08, 2012
at 12:12 PM

on a long enough time line......... If YOU have to sit all day, might I suggest finding a new line of work? I mean, if its going to save you from dying that might be a good idea



on July 08, 2012
at 11:10 AM

I dunno I think everyone is equally likely to die...



on July 08, 2012
at 10:41 AM

Would you mind posting links to some of the articles? I'd be interested in taking a gander and then getting back to you...

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on July 08, 2012
at 12:09 PM

These are the journal articles sparking much of this flurry of panic about sitting and working:

[Lynch BM, Friedenreich CM, Winkler EA, Healy GN, Vallance JK, Eakin EG, Owen N. Associations of objectively assessed physical activity and sedentary time with biomarkers of breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: findings from NHANES (2003-2006). Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Nov;130(1):183-94.

Patel AV, Bernstein L, Deka A, Feigelson HS, Campbell PT, Gapstur SM, Colditz GA, Thun MJ. Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Aug 15;172(4):419-29.]

...and yes, the general consensus is that sitting all day will increase the risk of early death -- however, periods of just 5 minutes each hour of walking and moving will substantially improve that risk profile. So yes, if you're standing around and moving for at least a portion of each hour, you reduce some of the risk.

I don't know how much good it does, but I also swapped out my seating situation -- when I -do- sit, I'm using a Balance Ball for my seated times, so my abdominal muscles, etc' are still being used.

Standing too much increases the risk of things like leg varicosity and, if knees are locked too much (which we tend to do if we get stressed), it can increase blood pressure -- so it seems like the best mix for those of us who are office-bound is a good balance between sitting and getting up and moving around, including standing-capable workstations and things like tablets.



on July 08, 2012
at 02:10 PM

Get a standing desk! Or make one yourself. A few Paleohack discussions on this before.



on July 08, 2012
at 03:09 PM

I think this is an other classic correlation ??? causation thingy. There are many people telling others that cardio is great for you, that Lance Armstrongs pulse rate is low so everybody's pulse should be low, ... I think people sit down because they are tired and sick, I don't think it's the other way around. I'm not saying walking doesn't have benefits but I believe it's not necessary to walk around to live longer.

In one of his books, Ray Peat mentions that a higher metabolism leads to greater longevity, contrary to popular beliefs (that calorie restriction is good). He says that, to live longer, you have to live more.

Medium avatar


on July 08, 2012
at 11:56 PM

That quote is similar to an old Zen saying: Best way to live long is not grow up.



on July 09, 2012
at 01:49 AM

So, I have a pretty good idea for this that I generally fail to implement. My work area has a standing desk, and a sit down desk, and open floor space. My idea is basically set a 20 minute timer (which is a good length of time to keep concentration anyway), then when the timer goes off its like a 3-5 minute break to go do a couple mobility exercises get water/whatever. Then you move on to the next "station". Stations are, stand-up desk, sit-down desk, kneel desk (can incorporate a hip flexor stretch with this), lay down desk, and walk and learn. I just do this for studying, pretty impractical in an office environment.


on July 08, 2012
at 12:37 PM

Thousands of years ago, humans had to evolve to adapt to their environment, which meant being able to sleep in caves and chase down animals and figure out what plants are safe to eat.

Today, humans will have to adapt to living in buildings, spending a lot of their time sitting in buildings and vehicles, being exposed to a wide variety of new toxins and progressively stronger bacteria and viruses, getting most of their information through electronic screens, and living many years longer.

Sad, perhaps, but true. Part of the adaptation might be to intentionally reject some aspects of this lifestyle, but it is extremely unlikely without some kind of cataclysm that these trends will reverse.

It takes at least thousands of years for a species to adapt, and this lifestyle has only been around for about 100 years. So we are at the beginning of a new era of human adaptability.

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