When I saw the Facebook ad that said "Sitting is the new smoking" the other day, I knew we had reached a cultural moment. Like cigarettes, desk jobs, which were once seen as some kind of reward, are now being more fully understood as the health hazards they are. While our ancestors who toiled on the farm or in the factory all day could only dream of sitting all day on the job, what health experts are now realizing is that sedentary jobs contribute to a number of health problems (not to mention our expanding waistlines).
Epidemiologist Steven Blair, who studies heart disease, noticed a connection between men with higher numbers of sedentary time in their schedules vs. those who moved more — and even regular workouts weren't enough to counterract the effects. Blair told NPR, "Those who were sitting more were substantially more likely to die." He went on to detail that "...men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity."
That means those of us with desk jobs or other employment that usually requires us to sit all day may have shorter life expectancies because of it.
Enter the standing desk (which you can buy, or fashion yourself — I stand and work at a kitchen counter parts of my working day), the treadmill desk, and now, the Fitdesk, which incorporates a stationary bike with a desk placed at such an angle that you can still type easily. It's relatively inexpensive, collapsible — and real people report that yes, you can get work done while pedalling away.
Daniel Sieradski, a web developer and digital strategist at The Self Agency, Ltd. is a fan of his recently purchased FitDesk. "I use it for a couple hours a day, mostly while processing email and Facebook messages. I use Breaktime to remind me to take breaks every 20 minutes (20 min. on, 5 off), until I've burned through 120 minutes. First thing in the morning, I cycle while checking email, then I take out the dog and make breakfast, then back up on the bike. I've had it a few days and I'm already feeling the effects," says Sieradski.
Whether you buy or make a new kind of desk, or get up and move around every hour, or both, working lots more movement into your workday can help you live longer (and maybe avoid those afternoon energy dips).