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Something New To Stand For

Did you know that in the 1940s, doctors recommended Camel brand cigarettes? With all we know about tobacco use today, that seems pretty incredible, but science has come a long way in the last several decades. By now, it’s no surprise to anyone that smoking, eating too much junk food, drinking too much alcohol, and being overweight are detrimental to your health. If you haven’t read about it yet, scientists have recently named another health hazard – too much sitting.

For reasons not yet entirely understood, there is a correlation between spending long amounts of time sitting and an increased risk of death (you can read two such articles here and here). What’s more, the correlation holds even if you exercise regularly. This isn’t just important news for couch potatoes, but also those who work 8-10 hours a day at a desk job. All of us can (and should) decrease the amount of time we spend watching TV, surfing the internet, and playing video games, but we can’t so easily quit our jobs. So what can we do to combat this scary statistic?

Some businesses are installing standing desks and treadmill desks to help their employees spend less time sitting, but if your office can’t afford that kind of investment, there’s a simple solution – just stand up. At least once per hour (set a timer if you need to), stand up from your desk. Spend a few moments walking around and gently stretching before returning to your chair. Pretty easy, right?

It will also help to reduce your risk in other areas. Even though it won’t protect you from the dangers of excessive sitting, make sure you do get the recommended amount of exercise (30 min of moderate level physical activity at least four days a week, but more is even better). In addition, stay away from the cigarettes, junk food, and excessive alcohol that we know to be harmful and receive annual checkups from your doctor.

Death by sitting sounds too ridiculous to take seriously, but it’s a legitimate (and fortunately, easily preventable) hazard of our modern world. Starting right now, take standing breaks every hour – or more often – so you can stick around long enough to find out what else science will surprise us with. Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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