Experts now say you should start standing up at work for at least two hours a day — and work your way toward four.
That’s a long-awaited answer for a growing number of workers who may have heard of the terrible health effects of prolonged sitting and been wondering whether they should buy standing desks or treadmill desks.
Today, the average office worker sits for about 10 hours, first all those hours in front of the computer, plowing through e-mails, making calls or writing proposals — and eating lunch. And then all those hours of sitting in front of the TV or surfing the Web at home.
Medical researchers have long warned that prolonged sitting is dangerous, associated with a significantly higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression, as well as muscle and joint problems. Some have gone on to say that the office chair is worse for your health than smoking and kills more people than HIV. Even working out vigorously before or after work may not compensate for extending sitting.
But now, those researchers have come up with formal suggestions for how much time to sit and to stand that could dramatically change our work habits.
According to the expert statement released in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Americans should begin to stand, move and take breaks for at least two out of eight hours at work. Then, Americans should gradually work up to spending at least half of your eight-hour work day in what researchers call these “light-intensity activities.”
“Our whole culture invites you to take a seat. We say, ‘Are you comfortable? Please take a seat?’ So we know we have a huge job in front of us,” said Gavin Bradley, director of Active Working, an international group aimed at reducing excessive sitting that, along with Public Health England, convened the expert panel. “Our first order of business is to get people to spend two hours of their work day NOT sitting. However you do it, the point is to just get off your rear end.”