Infographic: Why Your Job Could Be Slowly Killing You

It's probably not news that sitting in front of a computer all day isn't good for your health -- but do you know just how bad it is? Here's how your job might be slowly killing you and how to make it better without resorting to a $1,000 treadmill desk.

If you feel like sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day is slowly stealing your life force, you’re not too far off.

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Most working professionals these days suffer from what the scientific community calls the sitting disease. And if you don’t believe it’s a real problem, just check out health forums like WebMD and Mayo Clinic.

According to research by the American Cancer Society, the more you sit, the shorter your average life span will be.

"For people who sit most of the day, their risk of a heart attack is about the same as smoking," says Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic.

Though sitting at work isn’t always a bad thing--it would look pretty weird to your boss if you were the only one standing during your performance review--and there are some methods for sitting that are better than others--research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

There are a number of high-tech solutions to the sitting disease, but most of them will cost you a pretty penny. Take the treadmill desk for example: A great idea in theory as the likes of Cosmopolitan’s Editor-in-chief Joanna Coles and ReadWrite’s Editor-in-chief Owen Thomas say it’s an ideal way to incorporate exercise into the workday. And there are of course plenty of variations on the treadmill desk concept, like the bike desk and the elliptical desk. But if you’re like most people, the $1,000+ price tag is just too steep.

You can opt instead for a simple, low-tech solution: hacking a standing desk concept with some modified Ikea tables.

But for those who think standing all day sounds preposterous, you'll be relieved to hear that it’s actually better to shift between standing and sitting according to a WebMD interview with Dr. David Dunstan, which is why some offices offer sit-stand desks with cranks to adjust desk height.

Other solutions to the sitting disease include taking frequent, short breaks from your desk. Research from the Cancer Prevention Research Centre at the University of Queensland shows that taking these kinds of breaks is good for the waistline and heart health. Try using your smartphone alarm or Google Calendar Reminders to let you know when it’s time to take a break, which should be at least once every half-hour.

If reading this is making you itch for a walk around the office, then don’t delay. Just be sure you check out this infographic from advocacy group JustStand.org when you get back.

[Image: Flickr user Jarkko Laine]

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4 Comments

  • Great reminder and tips on why we should build more active breaks into our day. We built Hotseat to take the thinking out of it. Hotseat syncs with your calendar to find optimal times to insert breaks, nudges you when it's time to take them, and tracks your progress as you do. While we're only for companies today, we continue to consider an expansion to consumers. Would love to know people's opinions and interest level!

    Regards, Hotseat Team GetHotseatApp.com @GetHotseatApp

  • Elizabeth Jean Miller

    I love my treadmill desk and I don't think that the price tag is too steep at all. It makes me so much happier, more focused and more productive that it has more than paid for itself with the extra work I've been able to do - all while in a good mood. People spend way more than $1,000 on things like clothes, cars, cable TV and the like (the monthly payments add up) - and such things don't do nearly as much for the mind, body, and spirit as the treadmill desk. I've also tried the Google Calendar reminder to take breaks, and in practice it has not worked because I like to stay focused on my assignments.

  • important article! does not have to be so expensive though. I just stacked some boxes on my desk to raise the monitor. an old k550 printer and an amp raised the keyboard. some books fine tuned the exact height . Could make or mood cabinets to achieve the same. To sit down i just move my monitor. keyboard is wireless which helps. Takes seconds to switch from standing to sitting and vise versa!