Thursday, April 14, 2011

Death by Sitting or ... The Killer Duff

by Zinta Aistars

I read an article online recently that has been making the rounds--and with good reason. It was originally published in Men's Health and titled "The Most Dangerous Thing You'll Do All Day."

That perilous activity is inactivity. You know who you are. You are a lot like me: sitting at my desk all day long, working at the computer. That can be eight to 10 hours a day, and add to that the time you spend sitting in the car to get to the office and back home again and, in my case, you just added on a couple more hours.


Live like this, and the study quoted in this article says that we sitters are 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than non-sitters. I'm no mathematician, but that's a big number in my book. Worst of all, it makes absolutely no difference if you exercise before or after that long day at the desk, nor does your healthy diet matter. It doesn't even matter if you pass on that cigar. It's still 54 percent.

Sitting can kill you.

I read that and heaved a sigh. I walk my old chow pup for a brisk 30 minutes every morning before I head into the office. I eat only organic foods. I try (and still sometimes fail) to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. I spend time in solitude to meditate and relax, and I spend time with family and friends to maintain a healthy social network. I live within my means. I'm generally happy.

And still, 54 percent.

I took another look at my office. I can't quit my job, after all. My only option is to try to work in a few steps here, a few steps there, during my work day. As chance has it, my office is one of many that line a perfect square. I can get up from my desk, say, once an hour, and walk the square. Get the blood pumping a bit, and in just a few minutes be back at my desk again.

So there I go. Sometimes I do lose track of time and miss the hour, but several times now throughout the day, I get up off my duff and make the rounds. Funny thing is ... I've made my work day a little more pleasant just by doing this. Inevitably, I pass someone's office who might call out to say hello, so I poke my head in and catch up with a colleague. I've learned several handy dandy work things this way that have helped me do my job better, built better rapport with colleagues I may otherwise not see very often and felt surprisingly refreshed by the time I get back to my desk. My mind has cleared and I have a solution that I had been seeking all morning ...

And then, there's the lunch hour. Has anyone noticed? Spring has sprung. The building where I work is sweetly located, giving me a choice of a walk through a residential neighborhood ... or an easy stroll to the city center, or a downhill jaunt to the Grand River (we won't talk about the uphill part coming back!). I can walk to the post office to mail a letter, or I can watch a fisherman tug a trout from the river, or I can stop into the book store to browse the shelves (and make sure I keep my wallet safely back at the office), or I can snap photos of spring flowers bursting up in neighborhood gardens.

And that two-hour commute every day? I'm working on that. I have a real estate agent booked to show me a log home that is nearer to my office, cutting my commute in half. I can't wait to see it. It has well over an acre of woods surrounding it, and a wraparound porch where I can wile away the lazy hours, sitting back and  ...




  1. Ha! What a good and scary reminder! My job also involves much sitting and my fav thing at home is right here on my laptop! I will look around and try to change things up a bit, especially at work.

  2. I am sure 99.99% of us were sitting when we read this.