OK, I'm on my feet. Will I live forever now?
The co-worker who swapped out her chair for a fitness ball? She may be on the right track, but it's still unclear if alternative seats, standing desks, or even treadmill desks lead to longer lives.
"That might be a stretch, but I see many patients who are benefiting from the use of these items. Certainly having an option is good," says Dr. Bergin, who quickly adds that humans are not generally conditioned to stand in one spot for long periods of time, either.
Damned if you stand, damned if you sit. So the problem seems to be a lack of general movement more than anything else... which raises the question:
How do I move around if my job involves being still?
Dr. Movassaghi recommends making sure you sit in short spurts. "Breaking up sitting can reset some of the damage that accumulates when sitting for extended time periods."
What does this look like? You could stand up when you're talking on the phone, or set an alarm every hour to briskly walk back and forth across the office. You can also choose the stairs over the elevator, or park your car farther away in the lot. Just. Move. Around.
When you do have to sit, make sure you have proper back support. The back of the chair should be angled at a slight recline, and press against the lumbar spine. Your computer monitor should be positioned at eye level, because when the neck tilts it causes pressure on your spine.
"Bottom line: unless you have a medical condition which precludes walking, swimming, or cycling, you should make every attempt to be more active," stresses Dr. Bergin. "Walking is what humans do best! We’re hunter-gatherers by nature, and leisurely walking is what we're put together to do."
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Carson Quinn sat while writing this story... then got up and went for a jog. Follow her on Twitter: @NewsCarson.