Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Office Epidemics: Sitting Disease

Yep. There is a thing called "sitting disease." Yep, it is a true medical issue. And yes, it has become a real office epidemic. But try not to fret too much. Sitting disease is something that's easily preventable through healthy life and working practices. In today's article, we explore the causes of, and best ways to prevent, this terrible-sounding new ailment that seems to be sweeping the nation. Don't miss out on the cure!

So What is 'Sitting Disease'?

It's really very simple actually. "Sitting disease," as it's now being referred to by medical professionals, actually refers to poor metabolic syndrome and the overall results of an excessively sedentary lifestyle. According to an article published by Mayo Clinic, 50-70 percent of people in America spend more than 6 hours per day sitting down. And when you add it all up - the hours of working at office desks, watching TV, waiting, driving in a car, and sitting down to dinner - the numbers seem pretty realistic. Unfortunately, another study by the American Cancer Society found that inactive men who just sat around for more than 6 hours 48% more likely to suffer premature death. And women got 94%.


So Lets Stand Up!

"Stand up against sitting disease" definitely sounds like a good motto, and it's one that medical professionals all over the country are encouraging patients to do. Believe it or not, the human body was designed much better for standing than sitting. This is partly because people who stand more tend to have stronger leg and abdominal muscles that are more adept at taking some of the body's weight off the spine and distributing it evenly, and healthily, throughout the body. When people sit down, the legs can't help support the weight of the torso anymore. In the office, people who slouch or strain forward to see a computer screen force the collapse of their abdominal muscles, so all the weight of the torso and head are left up to the poor, bent spine. Poor circulation is also a side-effect of any modern task chairs that lack ergonomic comfort. 

Naturally, the first solution is to stand up, and take a stance against sitting!

Standing At Work

For all you seated office professionals out there worried about being the cubicle meerkat, don't fret. You're not the only one. We understand that transitioning from a seated working style to a standing one is no easy task. Not only do you have to get clearance from the boss, but you also have to buy (or make) all new office equipment to help you facilitate a healthier lifestyle. However, here are a few office hacks to make the change painless!

1. Get a doctor's note. Boss can't say anything if it's a medical necessity, right?
2. Shop affordable ergonomic desks for sale from reliable dealers.
3. Invest in a cushioned foot mat, support socks, and comfortable shoes to help make the transition from a 'seated lifestyle' to a 'standing lifestyle' a bit easier on the body.
4. Try DIYing your own adjustable standing desk if you want to save money. There are tons of great tutorials online already!

The Benefits

The benefits of standing in the workplace are... outstanding! Research shows that when someone shows true initiative by training their body to prepare for a standing lifestyle, overall health improves and so do one's chances of a successful transition. Those who take the time to exercise their legs and abdomen actually prepare their bodies for when those muscles will have to work extra hard. In fact, one reason aspiring standers fail to acclimate to a standing work style is simply because they fail to realize that standing for a full workday is a workout. You have to prepare your body ahead of time to sustain that level of 'endurance standing'. 

However, those who do stand at work often report greater focus and energy. Smithsonian magazine also attributes reduced risk of obesity, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic issues, and reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and reduced mortality rates to chronic standers. And all that extra physical training tends to produce much fitter, healthier bodies - always good for swimsuit season!

Sound Too Good to be True?

Well, it is. Unfortunately, all the hype about standing at work has also overturned a dark side to the task - namely, too much of it is bad for you. All those health-nuts who say "sitting is the new smoking" probably haven't tried to stand for a full workday without respite, which coincidentally, is exactly what many wannabe standers did before discovering too much of a good thing. In truth, all the health benefits attributed to standing, like reduced risk of disease, and physical fitness, are very real. But at the same time, standing continuously without breaks can wear out the legs. Standing has been known to lead to cardiovascular conditions like spider-veins, since the blood flowing down into your legs now has to strain against gravity to flow back up. As a result, many standing workers are left tired, sore, and frustrated. 

The Healthiest Solution

The best way to combat the dark sides of both standing and sitting is with a compromise. A mostly stand-up lifestyle is the best option, but don't forget to throw a few seated breaks in there. Investing in height adjustable workstations is a great way to facilitate both lifestyles. At the touch of a button, users can bring their whole desktop up for a standing session, or back down again for a seated (and still productive) break. With the ability to go from 'sit' to 'stand,' users can train their bodies to stand for longer periods of time by slowly increasing the duration of a standing session. Experts advise to supplement standing sessions with appropriate equipment, including gel mats, comfortable shoes, and compression socks. But don't forget to keep a few healthful ergo chairs around for when you truly need to take a load off your feet!

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