Have you ever thought how much you just SIT every day? I recently re-engineered my workstation by elevating my iMac on a plastic box, my keyboard on an old christmas cake given to me by one of my patients (I think they’d be enthused knowing how much they’re helping me!), and my mouse on two CPS editions (now I use an iPhone app), a tin of cookies also donated at Christmas, a Dorland’s (now I use google), and an anatomy atlas (google that, too.)
It sort of looks like a mess. The iMac wobbles a bit, so I can’t pound at my keyboard with my usual boundless enthusiasm. I’ve put my mouse pad on top of my cookie tin so there’s half decent traction. If I move my computer screen to its maximum upwards excursion, I’m only slightly stooped.
Stooping is what I do. I’m tall, and have spent a lifetime stooping down to talk to people. Combine this with our natural human predisposition for flexor dominance (we all have overdeveloped anterior musculature, pecs and biceps stronger than lats, rhomboids and triceps), and you get chronic shoulder aches. That’s why I elevated my computer.
What I’ve found, however, is that my fitbit is registering markedly more steps! I’ve tested the thing, neurotic and obsessive as I am, and it’s certainly not a “loose” counter. Standing and shifting, or moving slowly does NOT register steps.
But now, with my standing position, I have to occasionally do a few more steps. Instead of pushing my chair back to stuff the shredding container, I actually have to take a few steps. I walk to the printer. Merely to get the blood moving in legs I move more.
The thought that inactivity is related to illness isn’t new, of course. In 2009, a twelve year prospective study showed a dose response association between sitting time and CVD, and all causes of mortality (Katzmarzyk et al). In a Canadian prospective study of standing in the workplace, Katzmarzyk et al (2014) further found that increased standing time was significantly associated with decreased mortality rates from all causes. A further study published in Feb of this year did show an initial finding of a drop in obesity, and incidence of DM2 with increased standing times. However, after adjusting for other factors, such as gender, age, tobacco use, economic status, eating habits, and submaximal working capacity, this association was no longer significant (Chaput et al, 2015).
This is interesting on a couple of fronts. First, it appears that increased standing is associated with lower mortality, and lower obesity, and diabetes. Association is not causation: other factors may bear on this including gender, age, smoking etc. It just may be that standing to work is a lifestyle decision, one often taken by those more health conscious. It just may be another card in your hand, one that you can choose to pick up.
I’ve picked it up. Think about how much time you sit massaging that EMR!
Chaput JP, Saunders TJ, Tremblay MS, Katzmarzyk PT, Tremblay A, Bouchard C.(2015).Workplace standing time and the incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes: a longitudinal study in adults. BMC Public Health. Feb 10;15:111. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1353-x.
Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Craig CL, Bouchard C. (2009) Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. May;41(5):998-1005. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181930355.
Katzmarzyk PT. (2014) Standing and mortality in a prospective cohort of Canadian adults.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 46(5):940-6. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000198.