SFA author Jim Evans is a 45-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today Jim shares some great advice on staying active in the workplace.
DEAR JIM: I’m getting along in years at 74, but I’m still working full-time and love my job. However, it’s a "sit-down" job in front of a computer that doesn’t provide much physical activity, and my weight seems to be creeping up on me during the past few years. It’s not much — only two to three pounds a year — but I’ve put on about 12 pounds in the past five years. I watch what I eat and try to stay active when I’m not working, but it doesn’t seem to be helping now. I know my metabolism has slowed down with age, but is there anything else I can do? GAINING IN GRINNELL
DEAR GAINING: Although you have tried to stay physically active, you are probably suffering from a common infirmity known as "sitting disease." But not to worry. There is a cure. In fact, the cure can increase both your physical activity level and your metabolism at the same time, even while you are working.
Studies have found that the physical activity associated with standing — rather than sitting — has a profound impact on overall health. "Sitting disease," a long-term result of prolonged sitting (more than 6.5 hours a day), includes increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and early mortality.
Based on the results of these studies, Ergotron, Inc.,www.ergotron.com of St. Paul, Minnesota, the global leader in ergonomic and wellness-enhancing mounting and mobility products, is urging employers to start utilizing stand-up and walkable work stations to fight "sitting disease."
"Responsible businesses need to understand the strong correlation that exists between extended periods of sitting and the associated impact that conditions such as heart disease and stroke will have on the global workforce," says Joel Hazzard, president and CEO of Ergotron. "By offering access to sit-stand computing options, businesses are creating an environment that promotes and supports optimum wellness and an active work style, and as a result healthier and happier employees."
Jacquie Evans, communication manager and executive assistant to the CEO of Hospice of the East Bay (hospiceeastbay.org/), has long been an advocate of working while standing. She says, "Like many people working in an office environment, I spend a lot of time on my computer and, after watching a special segment on ABC’s Good Morning America about the benefits of standing while working, I decided to try it. Now, after standing at my desk for more than two years, I really think it has made a difference in my overall concentration and alertness during the day, and it has definitely improved my posture. And, I don’t experience the back pains anymore either from sitting for so long day after day. It has helped me control my weight, too, because I find myself eating less in a standing position."
Until and unless your company acquires ergonomically-correct furniture to accommodate some kind of a mounting device or "lift" to raise your computer to a higher level where you can easily use it in a standing position, you might place something under it. "I just placed a simple cardboard box under my computer in the beginning," says Evans, "until I could find an adjustable desk top that offered more stability."
So join the "uprising" and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised to see your weight start heading in the right direction again.