Every day more people are sitting for longer. Doctors and scientists tell us that sitting for prolonged periods isn’t good for us. What are we to do?
Often, we know the theory and we know the risks. For many business people who rely on computers and staff sitting at their desk to generate revenue for a thriving business sitting keeps them alive.
According to James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo clinic “sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” Simply put he says… “The chair is out to kill us.”
Dr Levine is credited with saying that “sitting is the new smoking”. And research shows that it is possible to reduce your chances of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and back pain, all with one simple lifestyle change: reduce the time you spend sitting.
People care, but don’t have enough spare time
Most people know they should exercise more, but simply don't have enough time.
For so many people running their own business or keeping on top of heavy client workloads takes priority. Their well-meaning plans fade with the evening sun, ready to try again another day.
Every day they feel they have to squeeze even more into their working day. Networking, marketing, social media, blogging, client work, business admin. It’s time consuming and exhausting. And so the week goes on until they collapse into another weekend.
Many people tell me it feels like a never-ending circle.
Is the risk worth it?
With an ever-increasing number of research projects finding the direct correlation between sitting and chronic diseases including a wide variety of cancers more people than ever are seeking different options.
Promoting health and well being at work is, quite rightly, a growing area. However, I see that business growth has to increase to pay for the new and different ways of working. Healthier, happier and more productive people will deliver increased turnover and profits, but in the short term the capital expenditure can be significant.
For smaller businesses who care just as much as large employers about their staff, changing working practices can be one step too far.
So, what can we do differently?
We can get to the core and discover why we are sitting hour hours on end.
We can become self aware. Instead of shuffling in our chair, we can ask ourselves questions. Do we have control to get up and move? Will moving have a detrimental effect on productivity? The irony is, that sitting too long makes us sluggish and less productive.
If we have to sit, how can we improve our efficiency so we get the same job done in less time?
Are our posteriors really glued to the seat? Or is it our brain chemistry that’s keeping us fixed in old, unhelpful, outdated patterns?
Forward thinking, caring companies are encouraging employees to stand more. Stand when you're on the telephone. Have standing meetings. Have one less chair than the number of meeting attendees, so everyone takes their turn standing. Colleagues are spending more time walking and talking rather than sitting in a meeting room.
One of the reasons I started my NetWalking group was so people could network, grow their business contacts and do something to keep them healthy too.
A notable study, Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project, 2011.published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed the following astounding results from a project where sit-stand devices were installed at workstations encouraging people to stand and work.
87% of the study participants felt more comfortable, 87% felt energized, 75% felt healthier, 71% felt more focused, 66% felt more productive, 62% felt happier, and 33% felt less stressed.
Bringing awareness to our standing
Encouraging people to stand more at work and changing behaviours is bound to bring up another flow of problems to be solved. But let's take one step at a time (pardon the pun) and start to focus on standing.
Be present in every moment, being aware of the different options for our own health. Create business processes for maximum growth in minimum time. Take time to come out of your head and back into your body. Think with purpose when we need to. Utilise business processes which deliver optimum efficiency and effectiveness. Spend your spare time being human.