My Preoccupation With Sitting

by Health, Productivity

You may think I talk too much about sitting vs. standing desks, but the preoccupation with sitting all day comes from a health AND productivity perspective. A new study recently came out to defend my stance yet again.

The study took healthy, normal-weight adults and grouped them into three categories.

1) Continually sitting for nine hours

2) Walking for 30 minutes, then sitting for the remainder of the nine hours. This is the equivalent to many people's run/walk/bike/swim in the morning before work and thinking that it is enough for the day.

3) Regular activity breaks equaling 30 minutes over the nine-hour period.

Findings? The regular activity breaks significantly reduced blood sugar and insulin compared to sitting all day (duh) but (yea!) had benefits similar to the 30 minutes simultaneously. Why is this exciting? Because one of the excuses I always hear is, “I don't have enough time.” Well, do you have 5 minutes in the morning? Can you find another 5 at lunch and when you get home from work?

One of my clients is a hairstylist. Every month I give her a new 5-minute workout she can do in the salon, in a skirt, without getting too sweaty. Does she feel it makes a difference? Absolutely. I call them ‘opportunities'. If you can't find a 5-minute opportunity in your day, watch this video – Fitness Opportunities.

I have another client who studies at Wegman's on Saturdays. His strategy? Every hour he gets up and walks the perimeter. He's more productive, needs less Jack and Crash beverages, and (see above!) is controlling his blood sugar to boot!

The takeaway from this article and study? Get off your ass and move a few minutes every hour. I like the Pomodoro technique and take a break every 25 minutes. Ideally, you could have a standing or walking desk. I LOVE mine – see here. Really, it makes a difference. In a cubicle? Stand up and talk on the phone a few minutes every hour. At the airport? Get up and walk the terminal while waiting for the plane to arrive. In the hotel? Pick up your food instead of delivering room service. You can find opportunities.

Where can you incorporate some activity breaks?

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Your Weekender Snapshot and Tim Ferriss’s Five Bullet Friday are my favorite emails I receive.

jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects