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Killing You Softly: The Chair

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A recent study has compared sitting to smoking. Long inactive hours in front of the computer or TV increase your risk of death from heart disease, colon and endometrial cancer, diabetes and can even affect mental health. Scientists believe the correlation between sitting and these various health issues is due to the fact that sitting causes muscles to burn less fat while decreasing overall blood flow. Sitting also leads to slouching, which weakens the back and stomach muscles.

Muscles need sustained periods of low fatigue engagement throughout the day, such as walking or standing, to stay healthy. This is why exercising for the recommended 30 minutes a day won’t offset the detriments of prolonged sitting. Most people are bound to a chair for some portion of the day and fall victim to this seemingly catch-22 scenario. The best solution would be to invest in a standing or treadmill desk but these aren’t the most practical or assessable options (unless you have a super accommodating boss).

So here are some things anyone can and should be doing while sitting:

  • Set your phone to alert you every 30 to 60 minutes to take a break and just stand or walk around for a few minutes.
  • Ditch your chair and get a stability ball! This will engage your core and improve balance.
  • Keep weights by your desk and pump iron while reading emails.
  • Do exercises around the office: wall squats, stand-ups, and plank off your desk.

James Hamblin, MD, a senior editor at The Atlantic also has tips for working out at the workplace.

Ready to get moving? Here are more office exercise ideas to try nothing else you can always take the stairs!

Medically Approved By Dr. Edward Salko, MD

Dr. Edward Salko is the board-certified physician who reviews lab tests provided by PERSONALABS™. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and pre-med from the University of Florida in Gainesville and his Doctor of Osteopathy Medicine in 1980 from Kansas City University School of Medicine.

Dr. Salko’s career has specialized in family and emergency medicine. His passion is to provide clients with the tools they need in the most convenient way possible to allow them to take charge of their own healthcare. He has held a variety of positions in Kansas, Florida and Washington. Currently, in addition to his duties as Medical Director for Personalabs, he is a practicing emergency physician in Kennewick, Washington.

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