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Stop Sitting At Your Desk, If You Want to Live

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You’re almost certainly sitting down to read this. Stop. Stand up. Read the whole article while standing. And then sit down again. This will extend your life. Seriously.

It’s hard to imagine that something so routine as being seated could have such a major effect on our lives, but research is proving exactly that. An article in CNN explains:

A new study that’s running in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that this kind of sedentary behavior increases our chances of getting a disease or a condition that will kill us prematurely, even if we exercise.

Researchers from Toronto came to this conclusion after analyzing 47 studies of sedentary behavior.

They adjusted their data to incorporate the amount someone exercises and found that the sitting we typically do in a day still outweighs the benefit we get from exercise. Of course, the more you exercise, the lower the impact of sedentary behavior.

The studies showed sedentary behavior can lead to death from cardiovascular issues and cancer as well as cause chronic conditions …prolonged sitting, meaning sitting for eight to 12 hours or more a day, increased your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 90%.

That should make anyone stand up and take notice. And if you’re not already standing up, do so right now.

Man Seated at Desk

© Flickr user Richard Moross

In addition to getting up on your feet once in a while, a helpful infographic from the Washington Post gives lots of other advice. This includes switching out your chair for a exercise ball, or doing some yoga stretches. You may get funny looks from your coworkers, but you’ll also live longer.

What else can you do? Here are some techniques that will improve your health and your productivity.

Take Phone Calls Standing Up

When you’re talking to another person, there’s usually no reason to be sitting down. You don’t often need to be reading or writing. You don’t usually need to be typing on a computer. Usually, you want to be engaged in the conversation. And if you do have something to capture, consider using a whiteboard. That way, it’s large and clear and you can stay active.

To get yourself to do take phone calls standing up, try moving your phone. Place it on a shelf or mount it high on the wall. Then you’ll have to stand to answer it or to dial, and you’ll automatically be in the right place.

Organize Standing or Walking Meetings

Ever notice how people tend to droop while sitting around the conference table? A standing meeting can make a huge difference. You can also go for a walk, which is especially effective for a one-on-one conversation or a brainstorming discussion.

Standing and walking meetings also tend to be more productive, because there is a sense of forward motion. People want to get back to their desks more quickly, so they are more likely to speak up and get issues resolved.

Get a Standing or Treadmill Desk

Although still fairly unusual as far as office furniture goes, desks that are designed for standing or walking are readily available. But even if you aren’t ready to get one in the budget, the difference between standing and sitting is usually between 14″ and 17″. You can often find a cardboard box or a stack of books that are about the right size, and move your keyboard up and down accordingly.

Make Use of Your Walls and Windows

Typically we hang shelves, artwork, or other knickknacks on the vertical spaces around us. Instead, try turning these into workspaces. A whiteboard is just the beginning. Use a corkboard, a magnetic surface, or scotch tape on a window. The more you can spread out your work, the better. And don’t be afraid to write on a vertical surface to take notes or edit documents. Changing your perspective can improve your productivity and your health!

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


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