By Heather Ervin, ThrottleNet Inc.

For most of us, sitting at a desk all day is common place. But did you know sitting all day could kill you? Read on to learn more about this surprising (or not so surprising) finding.

According to a poll of nearly 6,300 people by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, it is possible that the average person spends about 56 hours a week sitting (usually at a computer, in a car or watching TV). I’m definitely guilty of it all. I’m planted in front of a computer all day and by the time I go home, all I want to do is veg out in front of my big screen and relax. Sound familiar?

So what does this mean for the millions of other office workers and sedentary people? Nothing good. According to research, sitting all day (even if it’s only 8 hours) can lead to increased risks for obesity, heart disease, posture issues, diabetes, muscle weakness, back pain and more. Sadly, most of us are unaware of this fact.

University of Missouri Professor Marc Hamilton wrote in the 2007 November issue of the medical journal Diabetes: “The dire concern for the future may rest with growing numbers unaware of the potential insidious dangers of sitting too much.”

You might be asking yourself, “What can I do about this?” It’s not like you can run around doing jumping jacks throughout the office every couple of hours. While good for your body, that might not be so good for your job.

Here are a few measures you can take to improve your health while working at the office all day:

  1. Be aware of your posture.  Your back should be straight, your shoulders back and the top of your monitor should be level with your eyes. This can also help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground, as well.
  2. Stretch it out!  Be sure to stretch your arms, neck, legs and torso while sitting. This is good for both your circulation and muscles.
  3. Take advantage of downtime. If you are waiting for a meeting to begin, something to print or a file to download, then get up and walk or stretch for a couple minutes. You can probably find the time to do this multiple times throughout your day.
  4. Have a ball at work.  No, I don’t mean party. Instead of sitting on a chair all day, bring in a stability ball to sit on. You’ll burn calories as you stabilize your body’s core (remember your posture, though). You could also bring in an elastic band to do stretches with or even some light weights.
  5. H 2 the O.  Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day. Oftentimes we drink lots of coffee or soda while sitting at work; however, caffeine can actually dehydrate you. Your body needs water, so make sure you drink it constantly.

So what does this have to do with information technology? Not much, yet everything. We work at computers all day, as most of you do. One ThrottleNet employee decided to raise his desk up high (about 3 feet off the ground) and get a tall chair so he had the option to switch between sitting and standing all day. Here it is folks: