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Are You “Sitting” Yourself To Death?


 Scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana analyzed the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years, and found that people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.


Still sitting? Then you should know that your office chair also:

1. Screws up your posture. The fascia, the tissue that connects individual muscles into a full-body network, begins to set when you stay in one position for too long, says Men’s Health advisor Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S., a physical therapist in Indianapolis. If you’re hunched over a keyboard all day, this eventually becomes your normal posture.

2. Makes you fatter. This happens for two reasons. First, you burn 60 more calories an hour when standing versus sitting. But more importantly, when you spend too much time sitting, your largest muscle group—the glutes (a.k.a. your butt)—become lazy and quit firing. This is called gluteal amnesia. And it means you burn fewer calories.

3. Causes lower back pain. Weak glutes push your pelvis forward, putting stress on the spine, says Hartman. Here’s the other unseemly thing that happens when your pelvis tilts forward: Your belly protrudes, making you look 5 months pregnant.

So what’s a solo entrepreneur to do if he lives hunched over his computer?

First, I would suggest you change how you think about fitness. We have a tendency to segment our lives—work, home, and downtime. Exercise falls into the last category, something we squeeze into our busy schedules when possible. But if you stop thinking about exercise as an activity, and instead think of it as a lifestyle, it’s easier to make healthy choices throughout the day.

In other words: Stop trying to be fit, and start trying to live fit.

Second, of course, is to stand more throughout the day. These strategies will get you up on your feet more often:

Strategy #1: Take two breaks an hour. Grab a drink . and take a short walk, Or simply stand and stretch for a minute. A European Heart Journal study of 5,000 men and women found that the quarter who took the most breaks during the day were 1.6 inches thinner than the quarter who took the least.

Strategy #2: Stand during phone calls. It may seem like a small thing but small choices will help move you in the right direction. . . . It all adds up, and it all matters.”

Strategy #3: Don’t write long emails. If crafting an email will take longer than 15 minutes,     stand up and call them.

And if that’s not enough (and it may not be) . . .

Strategy #4:Shop for a standup desk. Australian researchers found that workers who log more than 6 hours of seat time a day are up to 68 percent more likely to be overweight. If you make the changes above and your waistline isn’t shrinking, a standup desk may be the answer. Make sure the screen is at arm’s length, and the top at eye level. Position the keyboard so your elbows are bent 90 degrees.

How much do you sit? Do you plan to change your habits now that you have this information? Leave a comment and let the whole community in on you thoughts. Any questions? Ask away! I answer all questions and comments personally within 24 hours.

This information could be very helpful to your Facebook friends- so share it! Be sure to “tweet” it to your Twitter folowers too!

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  1. Zach says:

    Michael- I’m standing up and doing jumping jacks right now! No kidding, that’s some frightening news. It makes sense, though, because people who sit all day also usually have other risk factors, like being overweight, smoking etc.
    Appreciate the “heads-up!”


  2. Lisa D says:

    My uncle had a heart attack recently and he survived(thank goodness), but the doctor told him pretty much what you said in your post. He was an accountant for 35 years and mostly sat at a desk. He doesn’t sit anymore!
    Thanks Michael!


  3. Mike-
    I usually rotate my time on the computer with housework: laundry, cleaning, cooking etc…So every hour I’m up and down at least every 15-20 minutes. Not only does it give my body a break, but also my mind. After staring at a computer screen for very long, my old brain cells start going numb!!!Just can’t think or be very creative.
    If I work a walk in during the day, it even helps the old creative juices start stirring. Now, if I can only remember every idea I come up with on my walk!!!

  4. Johanna says:

    Hi Mike,

    I do exercise at least 3-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes but I do a lot of sitting when working on the computer. One good thing that I do is stand up once in a while when I’m doing dentistry. But now, I think I have to do more standing when I’m working online!!

    Thanks for this info!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Johanna,
      Yep, ye olde computer should have a skull and crossbones on it! It’s important to be conscious of how much you “move” your body each day. Thanks for your input!


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