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60 Minutes investigates: is sitting down killing us? Sitting is the new smoking

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sorry, did you say “sitting”? Surely you meant “smoking”? You know, those yucky sticks of tobacco smoke, linked to many types of cancers, lung diseases, heart disease, and poor blood circulation? Smoking, right?

Nope, we mean sitting. The risks of sitting are dire. Is sitting as bad as smoking? Various studies and research has discovered more about not only the risks of sitting, but that exercise - even if we are diligent at going to the gym three times a week (despite the desire to drive right past and go straight home!) - is being negated by all those hours we spend sitting in an office chair in front of our computers during the day, and slumping on the couch in front of the TV or laptop at night.

Last Sunday night, 60 Minutes looked at the dangers and health effects of prolonged sitting, and how we’re turning into a sedentary nation. Is sitting down killing us?

health hazards of sitting

The health hazards of sitting too much for office workers (and couch potatoes!)

Let’s not sugar coat it. Here are the facts. As soon as you sit:
• Your leg muscles shut off
• Your calorie-burning rate drops to just one per minute
• Enzymes that help break down fat drop 90 per cent

With all this, our exercise rate is not increasing. No wonder our obesity rate is rocketing!

The health hazards of sitting too much are real, and scary. Links have been made between our sedentary lifestyles and:

→ certain kinds of cancer
→ type 2 diabetes 
→ heart disease
→ mental health
→ obesity
→ high blood pressure 
→ the risk of disability in the future

Lymphatic drainage, the body’s way of removing toxins, requires muscle movement. You’ve probably heard of many types of massage that manipulate muscles to facilitate this process. The lack of muscle movement means our lymphatic systems are compromised, and we’re unable to effectively remove not only toxins, but waste, excess water, and bacteria from the body. 

Stand up for the kids: standing desks in the classroom

Computers are great, the internet is awesome, and I love my iPhone. It’s safe to say we can all recognise the power of technology and how it has made communication, collaboration, interaction and research so much quicker and easier than decades past.

With our reliance on technology, though, is the lifestyle that is a result of it. Children are spending their Saturdays playing computer games or hooked on mum’s iPad, whereas even as little as ten years ago, kids were running round, sweating in their t-shirts and falling in dirt as they found ways to amuse themselves on the weekends.

It’s school holidays in some parts of Australia at the moment, and, not to sound cliché (or old), but “back in the day” we’d spend our school holidays playing “chasey", riding our bikes, slam dunking in two-on-two basketball, and making up other adventure games. Today, the reliance on technology is often blindingly obvious.

Late last year, Mont Albert Primary School become the first school in the world to trial standing desks in the classroom. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive: children felt more alert, teachers loved teaching a more energetic and dynamic class, and kids are learning from a young age that an “office” lifestyle doesn't necessarily mean a sedentary one. 

Stand up (literally) against the risks of sitting for long hours

60 Minutes teases that despite the health risks associated with sitting, there is something you can do about it. 

It’s not about doubling exercise and running on the treadmill till your legs fall off; it’s about interrupting sitting as often as you can. So, what can you do?

✓ Take regular walks (yes, regular, as in every hour, not twice a day) around the office, the block, and up and down the stairs (it will only take two minutes - that email can wait!)

60 Minutes dangers of sitting✓ Drink more water (you’ll be filling up your glass and visiting the bathroom more regularly)

✓ Get up and out of the office at lunchtime, and enjoy a brisk ten-minute walk
✓ Walk around the house during commercial breaks
✓ Do light housework tasks while watching TV (like folding clothes, ironing, or cleaning your room)
✓ If you work from home, walk the block a couple of times a day (and take the dog!)


Stand up, Australia! A standing desk can defy the dangers of sitting too long

standing desk

The office is generally where most Australians are spending the majority of their days. Almost a quarter of all the hours in a week are spent at work and 40-hour work weeks are far from unusual! That’s why the office is normally a great place to start when looking for ways to change this static lifestyle.


A standing desk gives us the opportunity to alternate between sitting and standing and break up those stagnant sitting and standing times (yep, standing all day is no better than sitting!) The key here is frequent adjustment. 

Ergomotion’s electric standing desks can alternate between sitting and standing positions within seconds. 

We’re designed to move. Kick your body back into action and get excited for more energy, reduced chronic pain, and a stronger back! Stand up with Ergomotion.


The key takeaways from 60 Minutes

- Sitting is as bad as smoking
- Prolonged sitting is killing us
- Choose a raised desk (or height adjustable desk) when possible
- Sit less, and move more
- Move as often as you can in the office
- Disrupt sitting with frequent bursts of movement
- Try to do some office exercises throughout the day


Watch the videos below, and share your thoughts with us on Facebook and LinkedIn!


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