Is Sitting The New Smoking?



Apart from the musculoskeletal effects of sitting for lengthy periods of time, research shows that there are a lot of metabolic risks to your health from sitting. There is evidence that shows that sitting for long periods of time uninterrupted increases your chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Some people have said “sitting is the new smoking”!

If your work is computer and desk-based it can lead to excessive static muscle loading on the lower back and neck.  There is a tendency for office workers to sit all day and then hit the gym to counteract the effects of sitting all day. This is not the solution as evidence suggests that the negative effects of sitting can’t be countered by brief bouts of strenuous exercises. Our recommendation is to alternate postures regularly between sitting and standing throughout the day to reduce the amount of static muscle loading. You can do this by taking regular breaks from the computer by standing and stretching whilst on the phone, or walk to get something from the printer.

In practice though, many people are unable to take regular breaks from sitting. As they get engrossed in their work, they forget to take a break or even ignore computer alerts they may have set up. If you are at a reception desk it may also be unprofessional or impractical to stand away from your computer to take the break required.

Is there a way to rotate between sitting and standing while maintaining productivity? The only option in the past has been an expensive sit / stand desk, which can cost over $1000. However newer and cheaper options now attach directly to the existing desk. They allow the computer and monitor to quickly rise from sitting to standing height.

Both the Varidesk and Kangaroo Pro Junior just sit on top of the desk with no fixing points and allow the user to stand and sit as required to perform their work. Pricing is from about $400 and they are both good quality products. We currently use them in our office. Another bonus is that if you follow a sit/stand routine of 45 minutes sitting /15 minutes standing you can burn an extra 1700 calories in a day at work. BONUS!!!


Trudi Henry (Occupational Therapist)