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Is your Desk making you Fat?

April 24, 2014

How much of your day to you spend sitting?  For many of us we sit at the office, during our commute and later when we are resting at home, maybe as much as 14 hours every day!  Frighteningly, recent research suggests that a day spent sitting at a desk will undo the benefits from cycling to work or going to the gym!

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A number of studies into inactivity have been conducted to try to understand what part sedentary behaviour is playing in the rise of obesity and diabetes.

Dr Tom Yates, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Health within the Diabetes Research Unit, University of Leicester said in a BBC interview “sitting might be more harmful than smoking” to the nation’s health, given most of us sit for prolonged periods whereas 15 – 20% of people smoke.  Dr Tom is not alone. Dr James Levine at the Mayo Clinic has been featured in The New York Times describing how he solved the mystery of why two people following the same diet can lose or gain weight at different rates.  Motion tracking underwear proved that small regular movements separated the weight losers from the weight gainers who spent an additional two hours each day seated.

Our ancestors used chairs as an emblem of authority but didn’t sit on them to work, eat and talk.  We’ve evolved to be upright and all this siting about, really isn’t good for us.  Simply standing as we work would improve our heart condition, reduce weight gain and tone our legs and bums, whereas sitting for over eight hours a day will worsen our health in these areas, upset our blood sugar balance and cause neck and back pain.

It’s widely believed that employers will soon be required to provide the option to work standing up or face claims for work induced injuries.  Smart managers are adopting stand up meetings and walking one to ones, finding the more active format to be more efficient alongside the physical benefits.  There are extreme cases in which treadmills are combined with desks to create Walkstations and many new offices are being kitted out with adjustable desks.  Radio DJ Trevor Nelson now broadcasts his One Extra show from a new ‘adjustable studio’ standing, as he believes it gives him a more energetic tone of voice.  Nelson is a passionate advocate this new stance saying:

“You’ve got to think of doing something, during the day that doesn’t involve going to the gym.”

It’s not just fashionable DJs who are opting to be upright, Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill and Donald Rumsfeld reportedly stood to work.

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