Standing Question: Could Sitting Too Long At Work Be Dangerous?
Doctors say sitting too long is the new smoking.
October 21, 2010 — -- Work can be back-breaking; hours spent hunched over at a computer with all the pressure resting in your neck. But what if you worked standing up?
Those who stand at work say that it helps them stay focused, avoid feeling they need a nap in the afternoon and even helps them shed pounds. Famous figures like Donald Rumsfeld and novelist Philip Roth have done it for years. And now some doctors say that you should do it too.
Marc Hamilton, a physiologist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, discovered that when he prevented lab mice from standing up, an enzyme that burns fat gets turned off, which can lead to weight gain.
"This enzyme is virtually shut off within hours of not standing, completely independent of diet, completely independent of weight changes," Hamilton said. "I think sitting is very dangerous."
That research prompted Hamilton to speak out that our culture of sitting is unhealthy.
Hamilton isn't the only doctor standing up to sitting down.
A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that sitting for long stretches, more than six hours a day, can make someone at least 18 percent more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity than those sitting less than three hours a day.
Doctors say the evolution of technology has impacted the way we use our bodies. Humans have moved from the active life of being hunter-gatherers to becoming agriculturalists. The Industrial Revolution moved us to factories and the technological revolution landed us behind desks and into the culture of sitting too much.
"Sitting has become the most common human behavior, literally, it outstrips the amount of time we spend sleeping," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said that sitting has become a new form of smoking. Smoking was once so common that people were reluctant to see the health hazard it posed.