Just hitting the gym for the recommended 30 minutes a day may not be enough to fend off diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Studies suggest that office workers who sit at their desk all day are at increased risk for these ailments (and may eventually die younger than more active folks) even if they get the recommended amount of exercise. Another study found that basic physical activity — like climbing stairs and walking — reduced people’s chances of dying regardless of factors like smoking and genetics.
It’s all about a paradigm shift between just focusing on “moderate” and “intense” exercise at the gym (don’t get us wrong, that’s still important, too!), to paying attention to all that light exercise the rest of the day. One of the oldest studies on the topic compared bus drivers (who sit all day) and conductors (who stand and walk all day) in the U.K. back in the ’50s. It turned out,on average than their more mobile peers. And even when they did develop heart disease, the conductors’ illnesses were less severe.
But there’s good news for all of us desk-bound workers. Sit-stand workstations (like a desk at standing height with an optional barstool for occasional sitting) cut down on workers’ back and neck pain complaints without reducing efficiency. Plus, just standing up instead of sitting at your desk could burn an additional 100 calories per hour.