The Danger of Sitting Down: A Summary of the Health Risks of Excessive Sedentary Behavior
Further, these innovative desks also boost employees’ energy and sense of well-being, decrease their fatigue and bodily discomfort, and reduce appetite and dietary intake (Dutta, Koepp, Stovitz, Levine, & Pereira, 2014; Nerhood & Thompson, 1994). Treadmill desks, perhaps a more exotic answer than their sit-stand counterparts, offer even greater physiological outcomes in their added capacity to shed body fat (MacEwen, MacDonald, & Burr, 2015; Thompson, Koepp, & Levine, 2014). Importantly, both sit-stand desks and treadmill desks entail these benefits without a decline in work performance and productivity (MacEwen et al., 2015; Thompson et al., 2014; Dutta et al., 2014; Neuhaus et al., 2014). To date, corporate customers of alternative, sit-stand and treadmill desks include Chevron, Intel, Allstate, Boeing, Apple, and Google (Lohr, 2012).
Another option available to employers is to amend the traditional work meeting. A Microsoft study found that the average American worker spends 45 hours per week at work and 5.6 hours per week in meetings (Belkin, 2007). Walking meetings represent an original solution to decrease sedentary time by exploiting the existing workplace framework. Studies indicate that walking stimulates idea flow and enhances creativity while increasing physical activity (Oppezzo & Schwartz, 2014; Elsbach & Hargadon, 2006). This data suggests that, though the concept rests in infancy, these on-the-go meetings might prove more productive than their conference room counterparts. In some cases, the implementation of walking meetings could also free up limited office space for other uses.
Finally, responsibility for decreasing sedentary time should not rest solely on the shoulders of employers; the US government must enact a number of nationwide efforts to address the issue. First, the government can catalyze employer action by offering incentives for policies aiming to combat sedentary behavior. Many similar incentives for employee health and wellness are currently in place due to the Affordable Care Act.
Alongside these incentives, the government can generate brochures, videos, and websites to raise awareness of disproportionate sitting’s detrimental outcomes. This information might dovetail well with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. Changes to infrastructure represent another viable option. One research group suggests providing non sitting alternatives at community entertainment venues as a way to reduce sitting outside of the workplace (Owen, Healy, Matthews, & Dunstan, 2010).
The interventions detailed here are by no means comprehensive, and alternative strategies remain necessary to break up sedentary time in non-office based professions such as delivery or transport vehicle operators. Novel solutions will continue to emerge and ongoing evaluations of these technologies and programs will stand crucial their optimization and, ultimately, a nationwide ebb in sedentary behavior.
Armstrong, S., & Oomen-Early, J. (2009). Social Connectedness, Self-Esteem, and Depression Symptomatology Among Collegiate Athletes Versus Nonathletes. Journal of American College Health, 57(5):521-26. doi:10.3200/JACH.57.5.521-526
Bass, C., Fleury, D. (2010). The (Not So) Hidden Costs of Member Absences [PowerPoint slides]. Prepared for 2011 Global Benefits Outsourcing Conference. Retrieved from http://www.mercersignatureevents.com/global_outsourcing_2011/resources/Not%20So%20Hidden%20Cost%20of%20Absences%20-%20FINAL.pdf
Belkin, L. (2007, May 31). Time Wasted? Perhaps it’s Well Spent. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/31/fashion/31work.html
Bey, L., Hamilton, MT. (2003). Suppression of Skeletal Muscle Lipoprotein Lipase Activity during Physical Inactivity: A Molecular Reason to Maintain Daily Low-Intensity Activity. The Journal of Physiology, 551(2):673-82. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2003.045591
Biswas, A., Oh, P. I., Faulkner, G. E., Bajaj, R. R., Silver, M. A., Mitchell, M. S., Alter, D. A. (2015). Sedentary Time and Its Association with Risk for Diabetes Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(2): 123-32. doi:10.7326/M14-1651.
Brownson,R. C.,Boehmer,T. K. (2004). Patterns and Trends in Physical Activity, Occupation, Transportation, Land Use, and Sedentary Behaviors. TRB Special Report 282. Does the Built Environment Influence Physical Activity? Examing the Evidence. [Paper prepared for the Transportation Research Board and the Institute of Medicine Committee on Physical Activity, Health, Transportation, and Land Use].
CareerBuilder. (2010). Workers Share Details of their Lunch and Smoke Break Routines. Retrieved from http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr578&sd=7%2F8%2F2010&ed=12%2F31%2F2010
Carlson, O., Martin, B., Stote, K. S., Golden, E., Maudsley, S., Najjar, S. S., Ferrucci, L., Ingram, D. K., Longo, D. L., Rumpler, W. V., Baer, D. J., Egan, J., Mattson, M. P. (2007). Impact of Reduced Meal Frequency Without Caloric Restriction on Glucose Regulation in Healthy, Normal-Weight Middle-Aged Men and Women. Metabolism, 56(12):1729-34. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2007.07.018
Cohen, S. & Williamson, GM. (1991) Stress and Infectious Disease in Humans. Psychological Bulletin, 109(1):5-24. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.109.1.5
Cornil, A., De Coster, A., Copinschi, G., Franckson, J. (1965). Effect of Muscular Exercise on the Plasma Level of Cortisol in Man. European Society of Endocrinology, 48:163-68. doi: 10.1530/acta.0.0480163
Csizmadi, I., Lo Siou, G., Friedenreich, C. M., Owen. N., Robson, P. J. (2011). Hours Spent and Energy Expended in Physical Activity Domains: Results from the Tomorrow Project Cohort in Alberta, Canada. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 8:110. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-110.
Dutta, N., Koepp, G. A., Stovitz, S. D., Levine, J. A., Pereira, M. A. (2014). Using Sit-Stand Workstations to Decrease Sedentary Time in Office Workers: A Randomized Crossover Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(7):6653-65. doi:10.3390/ijerph110706653
Elsbach, K. D., Hargadon, A. B. (2006). Enhancing Creativity Through Mindless Work: A Framework of Workday Design. Organization Science, 17(4):470-83. doi:10.1287/orsc.1060.0193
Finkelstein, E., Fiebelkorn, I. C., Wang, G. (2005). The Costs of Obesity Among Full-Time Employees. American Journal of Health Promotion, 20(1):45-51.
Finkelstein, E. A., Trogdon, J. G., Cohen, J. W., Dietz, W. (2009). Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity: Payer-and-Service-Specific Estimates. Health Affairs, 28(5):w822-31. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.28.5.w822
Fox, K. R. (1999). The Influence of Physical Activity on Mental Well-being. Public Health Nutrition, 2(3A):411-18. doi:10.1017/S1368980099000567
Hamilton, M. T., Hamilton, D. G., Zderic, T. W. (2007). Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Diabetes, 56(11):2655-67. doi:10.2337/db07-0882
Haskell, W. L., Lee, I., Pate, R. R., Powell, K. E., Blair, S. N., Franklin, B. A., Macera, C. A., Heath, G. W., Thompson, P. D., Bauman, A. (2007). Physical Activity and Public Health: Updated Recommendation for Adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation, 116:1081-93. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.185649
Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., Salmon, J., Cerin, E., Shaw, J. E., Zimmet, P. Z., Owen, N. (2008). Breaks in Sedentary Time: Beneficial Associations with Metabolic Risk. Diabetes Care, 31(4):661-66. doi:10.2337/dc07-2046
Katzmarzyk, P. T., Lee, I. M. (2012). Sedentary Behavior and Life Expectancy in the USA: A Cause-deleted Life Table Analysis. BMJ Open, 2(4). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000828.
Kesaniemi, Y. K., Danforth, E. Jr., Jensen, M. D., Kopelman, P. G., Lefebvre, P., Reeder, B. A. (2001). Dose-Response Issues Concerning Physical Activity and Health: An Evidence Based Symposium. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(6):51-58.
Let’s Move. Get Active. Retrieved from http://letsmove.gov/get-active
Levine, J. A., Eberhardt, N. L., Jensen, M. D. (1999). Role of Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis in Resistance to Fat Gain in Humans. Science, 283(5399):212-14. doi:10.1126/science.283.5399.212
Lohr, S. (2012, December 1). Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/business/stand-up-desks-gaining-favor-in-the-workplace.html?_r=1
Lynch, B. M. (2010). Sedentary Behavior and Cancer: A Systematic Review of the Literature and Proposed Biological Mechanisms. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, 19(11):2691-709. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPL-10-0815
MacEwen, B. T., MacDonald, D. J., Burr, J. F. (2015). A Systematic Review of Standing and Treadmill Desks in the Workplace. Preventative Medicine, 70:50-58. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.11.011
Matthews, C. E., Chen, K. Y., Freedson, P. S., Buchowski, M. S., Beech, B. M., Pate, P. R., Troiano, R. P. (2008). Amount of Time Spent in Sedentary Behaviors in the United States, 2003-2004. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167(7):875-81. doi:10.1093/aje/kwm390.
Matthews, C. E., George, S. M., Moore, S. C., Bowles, H. R., Blair, A., Park, Y., Troiano, R. P., Hollenbeck, A., Schatzkin, A. (2012). Amount of Time Spent in Sedentary Behaviors and Cause-Specific Mortality in US Adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(2):437-45. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.019620
Miyachi, M., Kurita, S., Tripette, J., Takahara, R., Yagi, Y., Murakami, H. (2015). Installation of a Stationary High Desk in the Workplace: Effect of a 6 Week Intervention on Physical Activity. BMC Public Health, 15:368. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1724-3
National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Walking… A Step in the Right Direction! Retrieved from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/walking-step-right-direction/Pages/walking-step-right-direction.aspx
Neilson, H. K., Friedenreich, C. M., Brockton, N. T., Millikan, R. C. (2009). Physical Activity and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer: Proposed Biologic Mechanisms and Areas for Future Research. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, 18(1):11-27. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0756
Nerhood, H. L., Thompson, S. W. (1994). Adjustable Sit-Stand Workstations in the Office [Abstract]. Proceedings of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 28(10):668-72. doi:10.1177/154193129403801028
Neuhaus, M., Eakin, E. G., Straker, L., Owen, N., Dunstan, D. W., Reid, N., Healy, G. N. (2014). Reducing Occupational Sedentary Time: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Evidence on Activity Permissive Workstations. Obesity Reviews, 15(10):822-38. doi:10.1111/obr.12201
Thompson WG., Koepp GA., Levine JA. (2014). Increasing Physical Activity with Treadmill Desks. Work, 48(1):47-51. doi:10.3233/WOR-131708
Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B. K., Flegal, K. M. (2014). Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(8):806-14. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.732
Oppezzo, M., Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4):1142-52. doi:10.1037/a0036577
Owen, N., Healy, G. N., Matthews, C. E., Dunstan, D. W. (2010). Too Much Sitting: The Population Health Science of Sedentary Behavior. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 28(3):105-13. doi:10.1097/JES.0b013e3181e373a2.
Patel, A. V., Bernstein, L., Deka, A., Feigelson, H. S., Campbell, P. T., Gapstur, S. M., Colditz, G. A., Thun, M. J. (2010). Leisure Time Spent-Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 172(4):419-29. doi:10.1093/aje/kwq155
Patel, A. V., Hildebrand, J. S., Campbell, P. T., Teras, L. R., Craft, L. L., McCullough, M. L., Gapstur, S. M. (2015). Leisure-Time Spent Sitting and Site-Specific Cancer Incidence in a Large U.S. Cohort. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 24(9):1350-59. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0237.
Schmid, D., Leitzmann, M. F. (2014). Television Viewing and Time Spent Sedentary in Relation to Cancer Risks: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 106(7):dju098. dui:10.1093/jnci/dju098
Somerville, Massachusetts. Shape Up Somerville. Retrieved from http://www.somervillema.gov/departments/health/sus
Stamatakis, E., Hirani, V., Rennie, K. (2009). Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors in Relation to Body Mass Index-Defined and Waist Circumference-Defined Obesity. The British Journal of Nutrition, 101(5):765-73. doi:10.1017/S0007114508035939
Tucker, L. A., Friedman, G. M. (1998). Obesity and Absenteeism: An Epidemiologic Study of 10,825 Adult Employed Adults. American Journal of Health Promotion, 12(3):202-07.