What is Sedentary Work?
Sedentary work is work performed while sitting for long periods of time. We’re talking office jobs. Writers. Coaches and consultants who sit while talking to clients all day long. If you’re sitting for 6 hours or longer every day, you’re performing sedentary work. And it will kill you.
Sedentary Work = Risk of Premature Death
The number of articles suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes is growing. But in fact, now they’re saying that sedentary work itself can lead to premature death, even if you exercise. I have to tell you, these articles really freaked me out (see below for a comprehensive list of articles on this topic). I’d actually read only one of these articles myself, until I chatted with Carrie Wilkerson, The Barefoot Executive, in an interview for Business in Blue Jeans Radio and my Legends of Mega-Success program and she told me about her treadmill desk (here’s a photo of Carrie’s desk).
I’d never heard of such a thing. This conversation of course, led me to hunt for more information. I found this article from the New York Times that showed treadmill desks in Cubicleland and elsewhere. Apparently, Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic started creating treadmill desks using hospital trays placed over treadmills. Today, there are plenty of companies that produce full-scale treadmill desks that include both treadmill and desk and more DIY designs than you can shake a stick at (see below for a list). Best part is, treadmill desks cut down on the sedentary and sitting stuff, so you decrease your risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and premature death.
The consensus from regular users of treadmill desks is that they go from feeling generally tired all the time (when sedentary) to feeling pretty energetic overall (after using the treadmill desk for a few weeks). Woot!
This Is Not New Information!!
What blows me away about all of this is that a newspaper article I found on Google, dating back to 1917, entitled, “Disease Due To Sedentary Work and Lack of Exercise Is Menace.” The article talked about diabetes, heart disease, and problems with the liver. In 1917, people. This isn’t news. We’ve known this was an issue for a hundred years. Has anything changed? No. Clearly not. If anything, we’re more sedentary now. Yikes! The 1917 article from The Gazette said, “Office men, known as “brain workers” are affected most by sedentary diseases. Many of them really are brain workers. But a large percentage of them are not using their brains to benefit them and fit them to continue their brain work.” Exactly.
According to Wikipedia, treadmills have been around since antiquity, with the first exercise treadmill being invented in 1952. So, how come it took almost a hundred years for someone to come up with the idea of putting “brain workers” onto a treadmill desk?!
The Great Treadmill Desk Project of 2012
Recently, The Great Treadmill Project of 2012 commenced here at the offices of Business in Blue Jeans. That’s right, we’re transforming my home office from your regular, average office where I not only sit at a desk working and writing all day, but also where I occasionally also put my feet up in a second chair to work (in highly non-ergonomic fashion, I’m sure).
Since the treadmill I currently own is…er…well, look, it’s stuck, okay? We had it built in the exercise room and we can’t get it out without taking it apart completely, because it simply won’t fit through the door. Believe me, we tried. So I’ve spent the last few weeks researching desk designs and locating a reasonably-priced treadmill that has good cushioning and durability.
Today, I finally made my choice and placed my order. Meet Wendy, the newest addition to the Business in Blue Jeans Team. Wendy is a Horizon T101 treadmill. She’s got lots of cushioning, a heck of a warranty, great ratings, and was a great deal. Plus, she’s got a setting that will let me track how many miles I’ve walked, like, ever. She’s a big piece of machinery, so we’ll be spending the next week or so re-arranging the office to accommodate her and evaluating desk design options for the desk. I’ll be posting updates and photos as I head into this journey out of sedentary and into action.
In the meantime, comment below- would you ever make the move to a treadmill desk? Have you made the move and enjoyed it/hated it? Does the sedentary work-premature death risk worry you?
Designs for treadmill desks:
- The $39 Treadmill Desk Site
- Dogs & Shoes Treadmill Desk Design
- Instructables Design
- The “Fancy IKEA Desk” Design
- MacWorld’s ideas
- Whatever the heck @TeamCurtis is doing with his treadmill desk!