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July 3, 2014 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By guest columnist Alice Burron, Soapstone Fitness, certified corporate wellness specialist
“I hear that sitting is more detrimental to our health than smoking. Is this true? And, if so, what are your recommendations for a company whose employees sit all day in a desk-job environment?” Brenda, Cheyenne
Yes, it’s true. New research suggests that sitting for more than 3 hours each day increases your risk for kidney disease, and sitting too long can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Sitting for more than 6 hours a day raises your risk of death by as much as 37 percent -- even if you work out. Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity. The longer you sit, the higher risk of certain types of cancer, too.
Many of us don't have a choice in our jobs. We must sit, and are sitting ducks when it comes to the negative health toll sitting takes on our bodies. Never fear, though. Here are some simple things you can do for your employees to counter a desk job:
-- Take 2-minute breaks of light- or moderate-intensity activity. Examples are walking in place, yoga, desk exercises and following short fitness videos, many of which are now available on the web.
-- Break up the day with two or three 20-minute segments of activity. Walk or go up and down the stairs for 20 minutes three times and you’ve met the daily physical activity requirement of 60 minutes per day. You may have to come in earlier to accommodate for the time taken for activity. Go to www.franklincovey.com/tc/ or contact the main WBDC website at www.WyomingEntrepreneur.biz.
-- Try a standing desk. If possible, use a standing desk with a foot rest underneath and alternate the support leg. If this is too difficult to stand all day, alternate between a sitting desk and a standing one. I use a standing desk, the Varidesk (www.varidesk.com), and find it to be the most useful tool in my office. It adjusts in height so I can change my stance and allows for two monitors. The cost ranges from $275 to $500.
Treadmill desks are becoming popular because they encourage a slow-paced walking motion that still allows you to continue to write and type, but keeps you active. Many people have reported great success, and even weight loss, with the treadmill desk. The cost is the downside. They range from $700 to $2,500 a unit. Another alternative is a keyboard lift, if you have adjustable monitors.
-- Sit on a balance disc/cushion or fitness ball. The cushion or fitness ball allows you to move your rear-end in all directions while still being seated, forcing you to use more muscles than just sitting on a desk chair. Both can take some time to get used to, as they do work the core muscles. So, work your way up gradually to eventually using these exclusively in place of a desk chair.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.