Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University, coined the phrase “Sitting is the new smoking”. Studies have correlated chronic sitting with an “increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseasebreast cancerkidney disease in women colon cancer in men, numerous chronic issues related to obesity, and death.”

This means that if you work out and eat well, but then sit all day you are still considered a sedentary person.  The prolonged sitting cancels out the benefits of going to the gym.

According to biomechanist Katy Bowman, author of Move your DNA”  it may be dangerous to not move all day and then go to the gym.  When you sit all day, your cardiovascular system becomes stagnant and it can be dangerous to pump enormous amounts of blood through these vessels all at once.

The typical office worker has more musculoskeletal injuries than other workers (including heavy laborers).  The World Health Organization ranks physical inactivity as the 4th biggest preventable killer globally.

How do we fix this?  Use standing desks?  Yes…and  No!

What we do know about the benefits of standing workstations…

  • More caloric burn (weight loss)
  • Less fatigue and tension
  • Less depression and overall improved mood
  • More vigor, energy, and focus
  • You will be cooler (there’s an anti-aging benefit)

Is standing the answer?  No

There are negative health consequences for being in ANY position for more than 60-90 minutes at a time, even standing.

If you have to spend prolonged periods of time in one position then make it as ergonomic as possible.  Standing work stations need to allow you to routinely change your position.

Keys to a healthy standing work station include:

  • Flat-soled shoes, adequately padded, non restrictive and flexible
  • The floor should not be too hard or soft and an anit-fatigue mat may help
  • Use a footstool, slant board or foot rail
  • Desk height should be ideal for the type of work that you perform
  • The top of the monitor should be at eye level
  • The keyboard and mouse should allow your arms to be parallel to the floor

Solution:  Move ALL day long!

  • Alternate sitting and standing at your workstation
  • Park your car as far away as possible in the morning (or if possible, walk to work)
  • Park in the furthest spot available at the store as well
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Ditch phone, email, and IM’s, and actually walk to speak to your colleagues in the office
  • Walk during phone calls
  • Step away from your workstation every hour and take a 2-5 minute activity break
  • Sit on the floor and let your muscles hold you up
  • Only use chair and furniture when absolutely necessary
  • Put away the food processor and improve your grip strength by chopping your food (grip strength is positively correlated with longevity)
  • Spend time every day in a full squat
  • Carry your grocery bags to the car (leave the cart)-imagine these are dumbbells you are carrying across the gym
  • Get on your hands and knees and wash the floor (mops and vacuums actually hurt our back and bodies as they don’t require any muscle activity!)

The bottom line…turn your day into a workout, include your children, make it fun and healthy!

Karen David Warren, Founder of One on One Physical Therapy, brings a wealth of knowledge to her patients incorporating over 20 years of physical therapy and sports medicine experience and education. Karen holds a Master of Physical Therapy degree from Emory University and a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from the University of Southern California. She is an Adjunct Faculty and guest lecturer for the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program, a Clinical Instructor at the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program, Emory University, and on the Advisory Board for the Physical Therapy Program at Mercer University. Karen’s email address is and more information can be found at