Perhaps you’ve heard that “Sitting is the new smoking.” If you sit at a desk all day, your health may be in jeopardy. According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for even two hours per day can lead to “a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause.”

Nutritionist Paris Latka says that sitting can lead to lower-back pain and other issues, as she sees in her practice. She said, “Prolonged periods of sitting are really unhealthy. It is so awful, the way we are sitting and the lack of movement. It increases our cortisol levels, and leads us to gain weight around the midsection. Then that fat in the midsection causes more problems.”

Practice Moving Often

Personal trainer Devin Perreault advises clients who work at desk jobs to start by just moving around more often. He said, “Move around as much as possible — get up out of the desk every hour or so. Whenever it comes across your mind, walk around, do stretches. Having a regular movement practice is the best way to go.”

Federal guidelines concur that any activity is better than none. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion officially advocates between 2 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours of moderate exercise per week. Perreault also recommends that the ultimate goal should be moving with moderate to rigorous activity 5–7 hours per week, with intensity high enough to make it difficult to hold a conversation. However, he says if this seems daunting, rather than aiming for 3 separate 2-hour bouts of gym time, think about ways to get 45 minutes to an hour of exercise or vigorous play on an almost daily basis.

Further, he said, cardiovascular exercise is not the only way — or even the best way — to keep a lean mass and elevated metabolism. Perreault recommends strength training. He said, “I think everybody should do strength training, for different reasons — confidence, injury prevention. If you are strong enough then you don’t have to worry about being hurt when carrying groceries or moving furniture. You’ll worry less about your back if you don’t have to risk injury when going to pick something up off the floor.”

Let Yourself Lead a Change in the Workplace

Latka said when she has worked at 40-hour-per-week jobs that required a lot of sitting, she has taken matters into her own hands to break the habit of sitting for hours on end. She said, “We have to be the ones to break it because no one is going to do it for us. We have to do something about it.”

At one large employer’s office, she realized she needed a break from sitting all day and began doing a circuit every hour. She said she simply started doing exercises in the corner of the office. Her colleagues reacted with surprise at first, but Latka said, “It catches on. I said, ‘Any one want to join me?’ At first one person did, then two, then five… it was cool. Feeling good catches on, and it is inspiring to people.”

So, how can you gain the confidence to make such changes? Latka said, “For me, I have to let myself be the odd duck. If they have an issue with me taking lunch or jumping up and down, I come armed with a lot of information. It’s increasing my productivity. More businesses are becoming hip to this — the quality of my life and person is related to quality of work I produce. The more peace I feel, the better for all.”

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Originally published at


  • Heather Bowen Ray

    Consultant and technical advisor for behavior-related health and wellness programs. Insatiably curious about social psychology and social change.

    Thrive Global

    Heather is a healthy habits coach and consultant to behavior-related health and wellness programs. She works with inspiring individuals who are working hard to overcome specific barriers to change. Heather's experience includes in-house and on-call work for advertising and communications agencies and stems from a 15+ year social change career based in Washington DC. She has instructed university-level communications courses and has trained hundreds of professionals and university students. She earned an MS in Marketing at Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Journalism from the University of Kansas. She contributes to Thrive Global and is a Precision Nutrition certified level one coach (PN1). Heather lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.