It’s Time to Take a Stand Against Sitting

It’s become increasingly clear that sitting in an office all day is a perfect recipe for health problems. In fact, studies indicate that too much time ensconced in a chair is linked with serous metabolic problems, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive body fat around the waist and higher cholesterol levels.

According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who spent two hours or more a day sitting in front of a screen experienced a 125 percent increase in cardiovascular disease and a 50 percent uptick in death from any cause. A 2012 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that every hour spent sitting cuts 22 minutes off a person’s lifespan. That’s about twice as much as smoking cigarettes!

Of course, two hours sitting is next to nothing within the IT industry, where developers, systems administrators and others often park in front of computers for eight or more hours each day—and sometimes well into the night. Although some companies in the IT industry have experimented with or adopted stand-up desks—Michael Dell showed off a stand-up desk when I interviewed him a number of years ago—most view these desks as weird, silly or unnecessary.

Regardless of industry, many managers don’t know what to do with requests for standing desks, sit-to-stand desks and treadmill desks.

However, one start-up firm thinks it has the answer to the so-called “sitting disease.” It has launched a Kickstarter initiative to build the TrekDesk II, which serves as a sort of Swiss Army Knife unit: It can be used as a regular desk, a standing desk, a sit-to-stand desk or a motion desk (treadmill, stepper, elliptical) that changes as an individual’s needs change.

Gimmicky? Perhaps. But as health care insurance and medical costs continue to rise, businesses must begin addressing employee health and wellness issues in a more comprehensive way. Even organizations that provide fitness facilities must think more holistically.

Stiff necks, sore backs and an array of other muscle-related pains are chronic problems that result from too much sitting. In the United Kingdom, sitting-related ailments cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.7 billion annually in sick days, according to a recent article in Forbes.

A few years ago, Denmark became the first country to mandate that employees have access to adjustable desks. While the concept may still be a novelty in the United States, one thing is obvious: It’s time for organizations to take a stand against too much sitting.