Office staff should take a stand for health by refusing to sit down at meetings and moving their work station to the nearest filing cabinet, according to an expert.
Professor Stuart Biddle spelled out his advice after research showed that lounging in a chair for too long can double the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death.
The findings indicate that sitting is bad in itself, irrespective of other time spent exercising or playing sport.
Scientists analysed the results of 18 studies with a total of 794,577 participants and found a big difference in health outcomes between the most and least sedentary.
Prof Biddle, from the University of Loughborough, who was one of the researchers, said: "Currently society forces us into too much sitting, sitting at school, sitting at office desks, sitting in cars and so on.
"There are many ways we can reduce our sitting time, such as breaking up long periods at the computer at work by placing our laptop on a filing cabinet. We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviours."
It Ups Diabetes Risk
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/05/sitting-too-long-diabetes-risk_n_917220.html" target="_hplink">Back in October,</a> researchers from the University of Missouri published results suggesting that sitting throughout most of the day may put individuals at higher risk for diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease -- even if you clear time for daily exercise.
It Increases Your Overall Death Risk
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/sitting-too-long-death_n_884152.html" target="_hplink">As HuffPost editor Amanda Chan reported back in June,</a> a study in the <em>American Journal of Epidemiology</em> found that women who sat six or more hours a day were nearly 40 percent more likely to die over a 13-year-stretch than those who sat less than three hours. As for men? Sitting for more than six hours was linked with an 18-percent higher risk of death.
Just A Few Mins (In Front Of the Tube) Takes A Toll
An <a href="http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2011/08/01/bjsm.2011.085662" target="_hplink">August study from the <em>British Journal of Sports Medicine</em></a> found that every hour you sit in front of the TV, you can slash your life expectancy by nearly 22 minutes. And watching the tube for six hours a day? That type of seriously sedentary behavior can cut your life expectancy <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/17/1-hour-of-tv-lifespan-22-minutes_n_929321.html" target="_hplink">by five years. </a>
It's Linked With Cancer
<a href="http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/03/8616170-if-youre-sitting-down-you-may-be-increasing-your-cancer-risk" target="_hplink">As MSNBC reported,</a> sitting may be responsible for more than 170,000 cases of cancer yearly -- with breast and colon cancers being the most influenced by rates of physical activity (and inactivity). But according to that article, a little bit of walking can go a long way. "For many of the most common cancers, it seems like something as simple as a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can help reduce cancer risk," Christine Friedenreich, an epidemiologist with Alberta Health Services <a href="http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/03/8616170-if-youre-sitting-down-you-may-be-increasing-your-cancer-risk" target="_hplink">told MSNBC.</a>
It Makes Your Bottom Bigger
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/05/sitting-down-makes-your-bottom-bigger-say-experts_n_1129377.html" target="_hplink">As our UK compatriots recently wrote,</a> researchers have found that putting pressure on certain body parts (i.e., your bottom) can produce up to 50 percent more fat than usual. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/05/sitting-down-makes-your-bottom-bigger-say-experts_n_1129377.html" target="_hplink">HuffPost UK reported:</a> "In a bid to explain why sedentary behaviour causes weight-gain, scientists believe that the precursors to fat cells turn into flab (and end up producing more) when subjected to prolonged periods of sitting down, otherwise known as 'mechanical stretching loads.'"
It Could Raise Your Heart Attack Risk
Not too long ago, <a href="http://health.yahoo.net/experts/menshealth/most-dangerous-thing-youll-do-all-day" target="_hplink"><em>Men's Health</em> covered a study</a> in the journal <em>Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise</em>, in which researchers from Louisiana found that people who sit for the majority of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. <a href="http://health.yahoo.net/experts/menshealth/most-dangerous-thing-youll-do-all-day" target="_hplink">Indeed, the investigators found</a> that sitting was an independent risk factor for serious cardiovascular events.
Stand Up with Us If You want to Live
Yet another study shows sitting too much is simply unhealthy. It found those who sat for more than 11 hours a day were 40 percent more likely to die in the next three years than those who sat less than four hours per day.
Prof Biddle practices what he preaches. He has a reminder note on his white board at work that says: "first 15 minutes of a meeting standing up".
He added: "I get a few odd looks - sometimes people think you're nuts or assume you have a bad back. But I've had quite a lot of positive feedback too. Standing up at a meeting makes you appear more animated and seems to make a good impression.
"I did go to one external meeting where everyone was sitting down as usual and I told them they should be standing a bit more. By the end of the meeting nearly everybody was standing and they seemed to quite like it."
He advocates the use of "standing desks" which can be raised or lowered and are mainly designed for people with back problems.
"You can have a posh electrically operated version or a hand-cranked one, or you can create your own standing desk by putting your screen a little higher, for instance on top of a filing cabinet," he said.
The study, published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, analysed research data on people with different levels of sedentary behaviour.
Compared with the least sedentary, those who spent the most time sitting down had a 112% greater risk of diabetes.
Similarly, the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes was increased by 147% in the most sedentary, and death linked to heart disease by 90%.
See the innovative desks HuffPost readers have created for themselves
<a href="http://@DrewMoxon" target="_hplink">@DrewMoxon</a>
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-spurlock/" target="_hplink">Chris Spurlock </a>
<a href="http://@jauntly" target="_hplink">@jauntly</a> coworkers
"All it took was a $35 IKEA coffee table on top of the actual desk and BAM - instant standing desk." @this_isbollocks
T. A. Henderson
<a href="http://@ceethru" target="_hplink">@ceethru</a>
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Brittany Mullins. Check out her blog, <a href="http://www.eatingbirdfood.com/" target="_hplink">Eating Bird Food. </a>
Special thanks to Huff Post Community member Pamela Hayes who submitted this photo of High Point university professor Dan Tarara.
Special thanks to Healthy Living Bill Ozinga. Here's his story: I've been using a treadmill desk for just over 100 days now and am close to completing my first goal - a 861 mile lap around Lake Michigan from my home. I've lost almost 20 lbs and have ton more energy at the end of the day. For the first three weeks, I sat a portion of the day, but since then I have been on the move almost constantly. So far the only drawback is I did the math on my fancy $100 walking shoes, they suggest replacing them every 500 miles. At this rate, my shoe costs will actually be higher than my YMCA membership! That's a cost I'm willing to accept. My setup is a height adjustable desk jacked up on blocks (2x4's, with a brace in the rear for stability), a cheap (free) treadmill I decapitated the controls from, and a keyboard slider to put the controls on so they're easily accessible. My total cost, under $60. This photo is from before the keyboard slider and it also shows the other key element in my success as a remote employee - a basket for my coworker (my cat).
Special thanks to community member Brittany Long. She says, "I've been standing for about a month now and I love it. The black square thing is one of those ottomans with a lid to hide stuff inside. The white rectangular thing is a shoe rack from Target. My hutch had a top and doors that lifted up on a hinge. I took off the top and the doors and the shelf was perfect for my monitors."
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Emaan.
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Anthony.
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Tex.
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Amit. Her standing desk consists of two cheap ikea book cabinets, two plank and bricks. She says, "I write and it's nice to have the books really close at hand. It also saves space in my studio apartment The middle area holds a dj mixer, and has also become my cat's favorite nap spot."
Special thanks to Carlos at Esperanza Salon & Spa in Summit, NJ.
Special thanks to Pat Minervini at <a href=":www.standingoodhealth.com." target="_hplink">StandingGoodHealth.com </a>
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Marinna. She says, "The closed laptop on the lower desk has a broken screen so I just connected it to a monitor. I use that set as my home computer and the netbook is for school and traveling purposes. I installed a program called "Input Director" which connects both PCs so that way I only need one mouse and keyboard to control both!"
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Sandy. She says, "Tried out the concept first by stacking lots of big books under the keyboard and monitor and loved how much better my back felt. Then trolled online to find the best fit for my needs and budget. Like this pub table solution a lot as the height is great and the larger dimensions allow for phone and paperwork next to the keyboard."
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Eric.
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Judith Saul. Here is her story: I was inspired years ago to raise my desk to standing height. It was long before I started reading articles about it it. It just suddenly struck me one day that it was healthier to keep moving. After 27 years of sitting I was tired of watching my ass spread. lol. As a graphic designer for a company that manufactures pilates equipment and produces anatomical training material and someone with 12 years of dance training I had already tried all kinds of other options like using a Ball instead of a chair, balancing on my knees etc. So I gerry-rigged my work station with a series of monitor risers. Two years ago, while our office was rearranging work stations, I bullied them into building me a surface to run the entire length of my area. It's 10 feet long in one direction and 5" in the other and 34" high. For those moments when I really need to sit for a bit I bought myself a drafting stool. I find I rarely simply stand as I work, I am more often dancing. I feel so much livelier and energetic now. I can't imagine ever going back to a low desk and chair.
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Brian. Check out Brian's blog, Brain Currents <a href="http://www.draftingservices.com/blog/my-standing-desk" target="_hplink">here. </a>
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Jen Tait from the Humane Society.
Special thanks to community member Robyn. She says, "It's not the prettiest thing but it works for me!"
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Kenneth Hranicky. He says, "For those of you that are not 'carpentry' inclined, I suggest finding a small drafting table that you can place on top of the desk. Use rubberized 'carpet-stays' under the legs to keep the drafting table from sliding around on top of your desk. Most of these small drafting tables are adjustable so you can get the right height. Also remember to put something down on the floor so you can rotate having one leg higher than the other. That will help with lower back problems."
Special thanks to Healthy Living community member Don. He says , "My laptop and iPad are at eye level and the keyboard and mouse are right where they need to be. Wires snake invisibly behind the shelves. You can adjust the height of the laptop or the keyboard by adding books or moving the shelf. I used to have a six foot long desk that was covered with paper piles. With the bookcase I only have room for my coffee and post-it notes. I'm far more productive, focused and my abs are stronger now than when I was doing hundreds of sit-ups."
Made with $20 worth of supplies. Special thanks to community member Vanessa C <a href="twitter.com/Vanessa_TAHCH" target="_hplink">@Vanessa_TAHCH</a>
Prof Biddle said it was not possible from the study to say how much time spent sitting is too long.
But he pointed out: "As a rule of thumb, if you can break up sitting time by at least five minutes every half hour we think that will benefit you.
"What we're seeing is these negative effects that are independent from the physical activity we do, and that's really crucial. So you can go for a 30 minute run every day but if you're sitting around for the rest of the day you're not doing yourself any favours."
The research suggests that despite the stress and discomfort, commuting to work on packed trains or buses might have some health benefits.
"It's likely that you get more walking and standing on a commute to work than if you travel by car," said Prof Biddle.
Study leader Dr Emma Wilmot, from the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester, said: "The average adult spends 50% to 70% of their time sitting so the findings of this study have far reaching implications. By simply limiting the time that we spend sitting, we may be able to reduce our risk of diabetes, heart disease and death."
The idea that sitting down might be bad for health dates back to the 1950s, when researchers found London bus drivers were twice as likely to suffer heart attacks than conductors.
It was assumed this was because bus conductors benefited from being active and moving around. Less attention was paid to the negative effect of drivers sitting for long periods of time in their cabs.
The scientists wrote in their paper: "In the following 60 years research has focused on establishing the links between moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity and health, largely overlooking the potentially important distinction between sedentary (sitting) and light-intensity physical activity."