Standing Question: Could sitting too long at work be dangerous?
Doctors Warn Sitting Too Long is the New Smoking
By Deborah Roberts and Jessica Hopper
Work can be back-breaking; hours spent hunched over at a computer with all the pressure resting in your neck. But what if you worked standing up?
Those who stand at work say that it helps them stay focused, avoid feeling they need a nap in the afternoon and even helps them shed pounds. Famous figures like Donald Rumsfeld and novelist Philip Roth have done it for years. And now some doctors say that you should do it too.
Marc Hamilton, a physiologist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, discovered that when he prevented lab mice from standing up, an enzyme that burns fat gets turned off, which can lead to weight gain.
"This enzyme is virtually shut off within hours of not standing, completely independent of diet, completely independent of weight changes," Hamilton said. "I think sitting is very dangerous."
That research prompted Hamilton to speak out that our culture of sitting is unhealthy.
Hamilton isn't the only doctor standing up to sitting down.
A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that sitting for long stretches, more than six hours a day, can make someone at least 18 percent more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity than those sitting less than three hours a day.
Treadmill Desks and Walking Meetings
When ABC News first visited SALO in 2008, the fun-loving employment placement firm was growing as fast as their employees' waistlines.
"There's always an abundance of food," Langer said. "We're a high energy group."
The average SALO employee put on ten pounds their first year in the company. Obesity expert Dr. Jim Levine moved his research lab into the offices of SALO, launching a six-month study to see if a moving office could actually help workers lose weight.
Levine brought in treadmill desks. Walking at around one mile per hour, Folkestad and Langer answer phones, respond to emails and even hold walking meetings.
Dr. Levine said to forget those old desks-- a standing, moving office worker is the employee of the future.
"If we can create a world where offices are doing better and the employees are becoming healthier, we’ve got a golden solution.
Sitting has become the most common human behavior, literally, it outstrips the amount of time we spend sleeping," Hamilton said.
Watch a video segement with Diane Sawyer and read the full article on ABC News here.