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Work Smart

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.

[Image: Flickr user Jarkko Laine]

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.

Infographic: via juststand.org, click to expand

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.