Avoid the ‘sitting disease’ at work

If you are like most working Americans, you sit all day at work. But now doctors say it could actually shorten our life. To counteract it employees are trying out new products to become more physically active even at work


If you are like most working Americans, you sit all day at work. Add in the time you spend sitting on your commute, as well as any leisure time at home, and you can easily waste over 13 hours a day sitting down.

A recent study by Australia's Sax Institute found that people who reported sitting for at least 11 hours a day had a 40 percent higher risk of dying within the next three years than people who sat for four hours a day.

Previous studies also suggest that a sedentary lifestyle can be linked to heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. The condition of prolonged sitting and its effects on the human body, physiologically and metabolically, has become known as the “sitting disease.”

“'Sitting disease’ is a description of a sedentary lifestyle that became a coined phrase as the medical community began to associate an increase in cardiovascular health with inactivity, particularly sitting,” Dr. Alice Chen, a physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, told “Beyond the cardiovascular implications, the sedentary lifestyle predisposes patients to neck and back pain due to atrophy or underdevelopment of the core abdominal and gluteal muscles,” Chen said.

To counteract this habitual sitting, doctors suggest taking steps to become more physically active– even at work. “I encourage my patients to get out of their chairs once an hour. Get up to ask a question to a colleague. Get up to go to the water cooler and take the stairs when it’s reasonable,” Chen said.

If you don’t think your internal clock will get you up and moving, products like standing desks and stability chairs can help out by automatically engaging muscles while seated.

TechnoGym, an international fitness company, recently introduced a new stability ballchair– the Wellness Ball. Unlike traditional stability balls, the bottom half of the ball is heavier than the top half to give you better stability and comfort.

Unlike a hard seat, sitting on the training ball provides you with just enough instability to force your legs and arms to engage so you don’t wobble while you sit.

“This is one of the best tools I’ve come across that helps to engage involuntary muscles, which in return can help you sit up straight and keep your posture,” Josh Holland, a celebrity trainer and global ambassador for Technogym, told

The Wellness Ball comes with a QR code to scan on your smartphone or tablet to access specially designed exercise videos to do on the ball.

Try these moves from Holland at the gym, or even at your desk on a stability ball.

Hip rotations- Sit on top of the ball without moving your head, shoulders or neck and rotate the ball in a circular fashion with your hips and butt. Then move them in a counterclockwise fashion. You should feel everything working, your abs, your oblique and your lower back.

The squeeze- You may not be moving in this exercise, but you’re actively contracting and squeezing all your muscles. Plant your feet onto the ground and work your way up by squeezing the caves, the quads, hamstrings, glutes and abs. Squeeze everything and see how long you can hold it for.

Leg extensions- Plant your feet firmly on the ground, shift one of your legs to the mid-line of your body and then extend the opposite foot straight out underneath the desk and hold it up for a few seconds. Continue doing reps by returning the extended leg back to start and lifting the other leg up. This move fires up the quads and engages the core for stability.

Squat- Standing, hold the ball in front of you with your arms extended out. Squeeze the ball— the ball weighs 4-5 pounds, so as soon as you squeeze you should feel your chest and arms engage. Keep your core tight and squat down. Sit your butt back, knees wide and keep your arms straight out. Squeeze your butt and stand up. Do this move about 5-10 times for 3 sets.

Plank- Modify a traditional plank pose by putting your hands or forearms on the ball. Make sure your weight is pressed straight down over the ball and keep your feet slightly separated to create a stable base. Keep your hips up, your abs tight and hold for 10 seconds.

Push-ups- Set your body up for a full extended plank with your arms pressing on the ball and your feet spread out on the ground. Bend your arms and lower your body an inch or two from the ball. Make sure your hands are pushing straight down instead of forward so your weight is centered. Do five to 10 reps.

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