When Your Chair Is Trying To Kill You, It’S Time To Take A Stand

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As I stand writing this, my chair sits with its back to me. Swiveled away in silent protest I like to think, upset that I haven’t settled into its comfy embrace for hours.

But that padded office chair with familiar hole in one armrest is no friend to me. I can never again enjoy the way I sat merrily typing away in it after research I recently uncovered revealed how bad it is for my health.

Studies find that taking a seat for long periods of time, an all too common affliction in our modern society, is linked with obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, said Dr. James A. Levine with the Mayo Clinic.

Some researchers refer to it as “sitting disease.”

And it comes with a high price.

Too much sitting seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, Levine said.

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Researchers say roughly 70 percent of the day is spent sitting with the average office worker sitting an average of six hours in an eight-hour workday.

But even if you work out before and after work, it does little to curb sitting disease’s wrath.

One study found a strong relationship between sitting and all health causes of mortality, even if people work out, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Scientists believe that is because an excessive amount of sitting impedes with the body’s ability to deposit fat from the blood stream and impairs the body’s healthy cholesterol.

That is why Payson resident Ken Crump decided to stand up and do something.

Crump has plans to backpack several times this year, but feared his desk job was impeding his health.

A few weeks ago he bought a $20 coffee table from IKEA, placed it on top of his desk and moved his computer screen up.

Crump said he first learned about the benefits of standing at work from his son, who at the time was working for Disney.

“He kept encouraging me to consider it,” he said.

It wasn’t until Crump started training for his backpacking trips in Colorado later this year that he seriously thought about making a standing desk.

“You know I thought this would be, in some small way, a benign way to get in shape,” he said.

Crump also recently took a job as the director of operations for an anesthesia firm in Phoenix and found he was not only sitting eight hours at his desk, but also sitting another three hours driving to and from.

“It was just the perfect opportunity to try it out.”

And how does he like it so far?

“I think there are some really good parts of it and parts that I am going to have to deal with.”

The bad: Crump has an issue with his sciatic nerve and standing in one place aggravates it.

The good: Crump feels more energized. Even his thinking is sharper.

“I really think there is something more to the phrase ‘Thinking on your feet,’” he said. “I think that I actually think better when I am standing up.”

And Crump may be onto something. A study found that people who sat just an hour less felt 87 percent more energized, 71 percent felt more focused and 66 percent more productive, according to the Just Stand organization.

Based on new evidence, the American Medical Association in June adopted a policy that encourages employers to give employees standing workstations or isometric balls.

“Prolonged sitting, particularly in work settings, can cause health problems and encouraging workplaces to offer employees alternatives to sitting all day will help to create a healthier workforce,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member.

Crump is a believer.

“I really think this will help inspire me to follow a healthier path,” he said.

Tips to stand more:

• Walk around the office every 30 minutes or every time you take a coffee break

• Stand while talking on the phone

• Raise your computer up using a low coffee table placed on top of a desk

• Instead of e-mailing or calling people in your office, walk to their desk

• Take a walk with colleagues on your lunch break

• Stop at the park on your way home and take a walk 

• At home, get up and move around during every commercial

• Visit JustStand.org for more information

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