It's time to adopt a standing desk

New reviews of independent studies suggest that sitting too much increases our risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and early death

standing desk logan ingalls
Credit: Logan Ingalls

Sitting is the new smoking. Standing desks might seem like a strange hipster fad, but they help us avoid the health risks of sitting for long periods of time.

After reviewing 47 studies and posting their findings on Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers have pointed out the many ways sitting can be killing us--even if we exercise daily and accounting for other lifestyle and health factors. LA Times summarizes

even those who punctuate a long day of sitting with a vigorous workout were estimated to be 16% more likely to die of any cause in a given time than were those who do not sit for long.

[...]The authors extrapolated from available research that those who spend long hours in sedentary activity are 90% more likely than those who don't to develop type 2 diabetes. [...]The likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease rises less dramatically (about 18%) with long hours of sitting, as did the risk of cancers (between 13% and 16%). Studies observed higher rates of breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial and endothelial ovarian cancer among those who logged long hours in a chair.

Since many of us spend most of our sitting time in front of a desk, the standing desk might be the solution. That, or at least alternating between standing and sitting (because, as someone who's adopted a makeshift standing desk, I can tell you it's not comfortable to stand in one spot for eight to ten hours a day either).

IKEA just introduced this relatively affordable ($489) adjustable sitting and standing desk, but you could also hack together something just by raising your monitors with reams of paper or other boxes you have around the house.

If your office isn't the type to embrace standing desks at work, the research suggests you should at least incorporate more pacing and other activity into your workday to reduce the amount of time you sit as much as possible.

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