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Get a move on: Sitting is a lethal activity

In a New York Times article Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? James Vlahos looks at inactivity and its related health dangers. He notes that:

"Over a lifetime, the unhealthful effects of sitting add up. Alpa Patel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, tracked the health of 123,000 Americans between 1992 and 2006. The men in the study who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher. Patel estimates that on average, people who sit too much shave a few years off of their lives."

With this in mind, we were delighted to find this short video that talks about the dangers of extended sitting and the importance of good posture. It's short, it's well done, and it's shareable.

Office Posture Matters: An Animated Guide from Flikli on Vimeo.

In the Vlahos article cited above, he observes that -- contrary to conventional wisdom -- extended periods of sitting are as bad for thin people as for obese people.

"Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. “Excessive sitting,” Dr. Levine says, “is a lethal activity.”

The good news is that inactivity’s peril can be countered. Working late one night at 3 a.m., Dr. Levine coined a name for the concept of reaping major benefits through thousands of minor movements each day: NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. In the world of NEAT, even the littlest stuff matters. McCrady-Spitzer showed me a chart that tracked my calorie-burning rate with zigzagging lines, like those of a seismograph. “What’s that?” I asked, pointing to one of the spikes, which indicated that the rate had shot up. “That’s when you bent over to tie your shoes,” she said. “It took your body more energy than just sitting still.”

In other words, it's not just the big exercises that matter, the little things can have an effect too. With this in mind, get your sedentary workers moving. Encourage "NEAT-ness" in your workplace - urge people to walk down the hall to deliver the message in person rather than clicking that email; to stand up and walk when taking a call; to take the stairs instead of the elevator; to get up often to sharpen a pencil, empty a wastebasket, or get a glass of water. Exercise is important, but motion matters too.

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ESI EAP offers 24-7 access to counselors and a wide variety of support resources for employees and family members who are facing difficult health challenges. We also offer wellness benefits and health risk assessments, including discounts for weight loss programs, exercise and nutrition programs, and stop smoking programs. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

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