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Stand Up! Why Sitting All Day is Terrible for Your Health


Man and woman walking in an office

By Sarah Parker Ward

We all know someone – or are that person – who spends their whole day sitting at a desk staring at a screen. If that’s you, you’re one of millions of Americans experiencing the same fate – in fact, less than 5 percent of Americans engage in 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

The Price of Being Sedentary

And you may not be shocked that sitting for long periods of time, or remaining sedentary, is linked to a variety of negative health outcomes, the least of which is lower back pain. The risk of developing cardiovascular disease symptoms, including like heart attacks, increases the more sedentary you are, and obesity, too, is a serious concern for those who aren’t often on the move.

What’s more, when it comes to whether to sit or stand, the solution isn’t just making your way to the gym a few times each week. A 2016 study found that sitting in a chair all day can be so detrimental to your health that not even regular exercise can overcome its negative impact. Rather, it’s about investing in some significant lifestyle changes to find a better all-around balance: decrease the total sedentary time and increase the total time that your blood is pumping.

Tips to Improve Your Work Routine

  • Try a standing or walking desk: Consider using a nontraditional desk that allows you to stand. Some are designed to rise and lower so you can sit or stand to mix it up. If you really want to get active, you can even purchase a treadmill desk so you can walk while you type!
  • Use an exercise ball for a chair: Standing or walking desk out of the question? A large exercise ball is a great alternative that will let you work the muscles in your legs and lower back while you sit. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting or changing any exercise regimen.
  • Hold walking meetings: Skip the conference room and, instead, ask your colleagues to join you as you walk laps. On a conference call? You don’t even have to tell them! Pace or walk laps while you talk.  
  • Track your steps: Using your mobile device or a pedometer, measure your daily steps. This biofeedback can help you set and achieve goals. (Pro tip: stretch or walk a few steps at least once every hour.)

The Bottom Line on Avoiding Back Pain & Other Health Risks

If you want to avoid a whole host of possible health concerns – from lower back pain to higher risk of heart attack – you simply have to get moving more often. The good news is that this doesn’t mean you have to spend hours toiling at the gym (in case that’s not your thing). Instead, you just need to get creative and keep your body in motion even if only through light activity like walking.  Talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.

And if you are experiencing some level of back pain, try these tips for managing that pain, and consider an over-the-counter solution like TYLENOL® 8hr Muscle Aches & Pain, which acts fast and lasts up to eight hours to relieve muscle aches and body pain.

Third-party references and links provided in this article are for educational purposes only. No sponsorship or endorsement is implied. Information was used from the American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, and National Institutes for Health.

©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017

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