You might want to stand up for this: understanding the “sitting disease”

You might want to stand up for this: understanding the “sitting disease”

July 3, 2019
a man works a his deskBy Lacy Wolff

The irony of sitting at our desks to learn about a condition called “the sitting disease” wasn’t lost on Rosemary Hohl-Chriswisser, a training specialist at the Department of Public Safety (DPS). “Feel free to stand periodically during this webinar,” she said. Indeed, getting to our feet throughout the day is one of the ways Hohl-Chriswisser says we can begin reversing the “devastating effects that prolonged physical inactivity can have on the body.

A growing body of research shows that the sitting disease leads to several chronic conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, Hohl-Chriswisser stated. Sitting too long may even shorten your life. A13-year study conducted by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours per day and were inactive were 94% more likely to die prematurely than those who were physically active and sat less than three hours per day. Men in the study fared slightly better: those who sat over six hours and were inactive were 48% more likely to die prematurely than those who stood. (Watch this Ted-Ed video for more evidence of how inactivity can harm our health).

Even those who are active are not immune to the sitting disease, Hohl-Chriswisser noted. While getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise is undoubtedly a good thing, 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise equates to only 2-4% of a 24-hour day. “You really need to pay attention to what you’re doing the rest of the day,” she asserted. (One active doctor shares his perspective in Sitting Disease: How a Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Heart Health. Read it here.)

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to add movement to your day, Hohl-Chriswisser said.
At the office:
  • Get up and stretch every 30 minutes.
  • Schedule a walking meeting.
  • Take the stairs every chance you can.
  • If you have a standing desk, use it.
At home:
  • Stand some while watching television.
  • Do a plank challenge during commercials.
  • Wash your car by hand instead of using the drive-through car wash.
  • Walk or move around while checking text messages/receiving phone calls.
Lacy Wolff
This article was based on information shared during a webinar offered through DPS' Fitness Wellness Unit.

As the Health Promotion Administrator here at ERS, I am working to connect members of the GBP to valuable resources that can improve health and quality of life. DPS’ Fitness Wellness Unit is a resource we hope participants, wellness liaisons and coordinators and agency leaders will use often.   

DPS takes the core value of teamwork very seriously and is willing to share with outside agencies. Wellness webinars are offered regularly through DPS' public facing webpage.