Brace yourself, because we’re about to get into an argument with the finest scientific minds of our time.
Harvard, Yale, the Mayo Clinic, and nearly every health service on Earth says that sitting is bad for you but we disagree and this is why.
Is Sitting Bad For You? The Evidence
The evidence against sitting appears very bad on first reading.
For example, Yale University asserts that there is an association between prolonged sitting and a risk of early death from any cause!
The folks at Harvard say that sitting is not just responsible for death but also diabetes, obesity, heart disease, deep-vein thrombosis, metabolic syndrome and that it can even increase pain in the body!
Other sources suggest other terrible consequences from sitting too and even suggest it may lead to burnout at work (here’s how to avoid burnout while working from home).
This is terrible right?
Well it would be, except for one thing. When you examine the lives of hunter-gatherer tribes around the world, they tend to spend about as much time sitting down as the average Westerner.
And they don’t die early, or suffer from diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or obesity and are at no special risk of heart disease, etc.
What’s Really Bad For You?
This, of course, means that it’s not so much sitting that’s killing us as our overall lack of energy expenditure.
The folks at Harvard and Yale are not wrong that if all you do is sit around all day, you’re more likely to become ill but it’s not so much because you’re sat down as when you’re not sat down, you’re not doing very much.
You see hunter gatherers do exercise, not out of choice, they are no more prone to going out for a run for fun than the average Westerner but they have to go run to hunt for food.
And it is this act of running which is the real difference between us and them.
In fact, we recently examined the consequences of abandoning sitting and asked how many calories do you burn at a standing desk?
We found that you’d burn off less than half a Big Mac a week if you could make it through all forty hours on your feet.
How To Ensure That Sitting Isn’t Bad For You
So, we need to exercise and move about if we want to retain our health and no, you don’t need to go running (though if you want to, please do, it’s brilliant exercise and human beings are uniquely suited to running).
You should, however, be taking, at least, one four mile walk a day, this is proven to have benefits in all the areas that the doctors claim are in peril if you sit all day long.
You should also consider taking on some exercises – we’d recommend that you start with our recommended exercises for people working from home.
In the longer term, we’d also recommend that you take up strength training, which is the form of exercise which is most related to longevity and health in your old age.
You don’t need to invest huge amounts of money in equipment to do strength training either, there are plenty of household items you can use to train with that you already own.
A Full Ergonomics Audit
There is one more way that your chair can ruin your health and this time around, it is directly related to sitting down.
A chair that fails to offer the proper physical support for your body will, over time, start to injure you.
The good news is that most countries now require employers to carry out an ergonomics audit for the home office – and you should encourage your employer to do this at their earliest convenience.
Even better? Your employer is usually responsible for paying for more ergonomically friendly equipment, so you can say goodbye to your bad back or aching knees without becoming any poorer.
Though sometimes all it takes is to adjust the chair you have to make it better suited for your use.
Sadly, this doesn’t apply if you work for yourself – then you’re going to have to do the audit and make changes.
We’d still encourage you to do so, the best investment any home worker can make in their long-term health is in a comfortable supportive workspace which includes a desk and chair.
Final Thoughts On Sitting And Your Health
We’re not saying the scientists have it all wrong but we are saying that as long as you are exercising and being active – sitting doesn’t have to be a death sentence and it’s certainly not worse than smoking as some headlines have suggested.
You should, however, carry out an ergonomic audit of the space you work in and if your chair’s not good enough to support you properly, you should replace it.