Sitting is destroying your body

The war on sitting has begun. The view that we're really not designed to stay seated for the entire day has been gathering steam this year, culminating in articles like this on at the New York Times and the ongoing discussions about standing desks over at BoingBoing — because some people really are happier on their feet all day long.

Even among scientific experts, the movement is gaining traction. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine is set to dedicate their entire August issue to the "many aspects of the problem of sedentary behavior." This issue is separate from concerns that we're not exercising as much as we're meant to. Now, say researchers, there's evidence that too much time spent seated could be a major risk factor for certain diseases.

While the journal acknowledges the need for more rigorous research, there seems to be real evidence that spending a majority of your time seated each day isn't good for your heart or back. Commented Neville Owen, a behavioral epidemiologist:

The purpose of this theme issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine is to propose a set of perspectives on ‘too much sitting' that can guide future research. As the theme papers demonstrate, recent epidemiologic evidence (supported by physiologic studies) is consistent in identifying sedentary behavior as a distinct health risk. However, to build evidencebased approaches for addressing sedentary behavior and health, there is the need for research to develop new measurement methods, to understand the personal, social, and environmental factors that influence sedentary behaviors, and to develop and test the relevant interventions.

So, what can you do if you want to get away from health-destroying sitting? Adjustable desks allow you to alter your position over the course of the day, but if you don't want to drop the serious cash on one of those, you can always just load up your normal desk with crates and boxes until your monitor is at eye-level. Just make sure you get something comfy to stand on, and something slightly raised so that you can raise a foot every now and then.