The conclusion to not smoke seems pretty obvious, and when the media highlights research that suggests that “sitting is the new smoking”, it captures my attention.
Now many years after these terrifying announcements and a growing number of standing work stations have been employed in place of sitting, I am learning that standing is as bad as sitting, possibly worse. What gives?
As you might expect, sometimes the headline is misleading.
The research now is pretty clear that it isn’t a question of sitting vs. standing, but rather the absence of moving that is the critical variable. When it comes to sitting, many thought leaders with best intentions, generalize sitting with the assumption that movement is absent and thus we are sedentary.
“Sedentary lifestyle is the true culprit that compromises our health.”
The best summary what happens when we don’t move is presented by Dr. Joan Vernikos, the health and fitness specialist for NASA, responsible for the health of astronauts before, during and after space travel. Dr. Vernikos relates the effect of zero gravity on our physiology and musculoskeletal integrity and likens this to an acceleration of the impact of not using gravity and thereby not moving to optimize our health.
“We are perpetual motion machines and we need to maintain constant movement from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed.”
An advocate of continuous movement, her message reinforces that of Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Levine actively promotes the NEAT approach and the impressive outcomes to our health in contrast and in harmony with regular gym style exercise.
NEAT, standing for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis simply put, is the activities that we engage in throughout our day. Walking further, taking the stairs, gardening. Any activities that keep us moving. The idea is that you need to incorporate subtle but constant movement throughout the day. As Dr. Vernikos says, “high frequency, low intensity”. So, it doesn’t matter as much whether you sit or stand, you need to keep moving.
Some simple solutions include sit to stand desks, such as Veridesk, using wobble standing boards as can be found on sites such as Fitter1, Ergo247, Amazon and more.
Another consideration is a chair that is designed to move such as CoreChair, Swopper and more.
While these are great workplace options, we need to add to this with walking telephone chats, meetings, breaks. We need to park further from the office door and walk more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
Never stop moving…