How to Live Longer and Healthier

So you want to live longer? Healthier? Happier? The first thing you should do is…

Get off your butt! Stand up! Quit sitting so much! There, I said it. It sounds too simple doesn’t it? But it’s a fact – Sitting for long periods is killing you regardless of your exercise regimen.

According to this study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology:

  • Regardless of physical activity – Women who sat more than 6 hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Regardless of physical activity – Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day.
  • Combined with lack of physical activity – Women who sat more than 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Combined with lack of physical activity – Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 48% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.

My Personal Story

I’m open to trying new ideas to see if they can improve my well being and my productivity, so a few months ago I put together a sit/stand workstation in my office. Today I spend 80% of my work day standing.

Here’s what happened:

  • I’ve dropped 3 pounds without changing anything in my lifestyle
  • I sleep better at night
  • I have more energy during the day
  • For over six years I’ve had joint pain in my knees and my hips. It’s gone.
  • For years, I’ve had dull pains in my abdomen, just under my ribs. It’s gone.
  • I’m more productive while standing
  • I feel I’m more creative while standing
  • I can’t imagine ever going back to sitting at a computer all day

The Information Age Changed Everything

Years ago sitting wasn’t as common as it is today. When we were an agrarian society, we had to get up early and work on the farm or we’d starve. During the industrial revolution we stood on our feet working the factory floor, but in the information age, many of us spend 8-10 hours a day on our butt in front of a computer, spend 45 minutes in the gym, and then spend the rest of the evening sitting in front of the TV, or a video game, or a computer again. We have to make a living writing, or programming, or building websites, or helping others on the internet. So how can we change?

  • We have to stand up at our computers!
  • We have to stand up when we game!
  • We have to stand up when we write!
  • We have to stand up when we program!

Burn Double the Calories

According to Marc Hamilton (associate professor of biomedical sciences at University of Missouri-Columbia) simply standing up will burn double the calories while talking on the phone or watching a sporting event. I assume the same is true of using a computer.

Fend Off Disease

A growing body of evidence shows that sitting for long periods increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. See this article about the link between sitting and diabetes and cancer, and this article about the link between sitting and heart disease.

Stand Up and Build your Health Consciousness

35 years ago, science began delivering data that smoking was killing us. Since then the smoking rate has dropped from 60% to 20%. Similar health benefits can be gained by creating a sit/stand culture in your company, at home, at school, and anywhere else we spend too much time sitting. This doesn’t need 35 years to take hold. Changing the way we work is easy and relatively inexpensive (ask me how). With most lifestyle related changes, you have the power. You get to decide what you eat. You get to decide not to smoke. You get to decide to exercise. Now you need to decide to stand up while you work! If you own a business, create sit/stand workspaces at your company. If you don’t own a business, change your workspace. If your employer doesn’t understand, send them the facts about what sitting is doing to your health.

Join the Sit/Stand Uprising at:

If you’re interested in learning how you can stand more, send me a note via my contact page and I’ll see how I can help you.

9 thoughts on “How to Live Longer and Healthier”

  1. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the article on Standing vs Sitting. For someone like myself, who spends most of the day sitting at a desk, it really strikes home… but not too surprising. I am convinced the worst thing for my health was to go out and get a desk job after college. As a result, I try to get at least an hour of exercise per day but clearly that is not enough. Unfortunately, as with most folks reading the post, its the best I can do with my busy schedule. I have tried sitting on an exercise ball, which I’ve heard good things, about but don’t really like sitting on it. It starts getting really uncomfortable after about 15 to 20 minutes.

    So I’m curious, how did you put together your sit stand workstation? Is that something you put together yourself or is it sold commercially? It almost looks like you reused a piece of medical equipment and appears far more sturdy than some sit/stand furniture you see on ergonomic sites.



  2. Love this post, totally agree with you. Standing should not be too difficult for most yet the incremental changes you described are phenomenal.

    Thanks for the insight and keep spreading the word.

  3. Paul,
    I work for Ergotron, so I am biased. And my sit/stand setup is made from an older model medical cart, so isn’t a good option for the average person. But, our new Workfit-S is specifically designed to make the sit/stand lifestyle available and affordable to everyone. I’ve used the Workfit-S and it is sturdier than my set up.

    I’d say the immediate health benefits of standing have been greater than when I quit smoking over 10 years ago. I’ve never felt better. I especially feel it in my back, joints, and abdomen.

    Do you work for a company right now or do you have your own business? What price would you consider an affordable sit/stand option?

  4. Hi.

    Be careful with your position. In the picture the computer is not correctly, it should be a little up. I’m doing the same almos 2 years and is very good for my back, but it’s importart to stop every 1 hour and doing some excersice because you overload the waist

    anyway thanks for the report.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I’ve thought of this way before, but never act. If I got one machine like yours, would be easier for me to doing the same thing as you. I don’t want to be that 48%…..
    Eat more healthy food is also a good way to make us live longer.


  6. Wow, never thought about standing versus sitting. Makes perfect sense though, the information age has definitely created a more lazy entrepreneur.

    Considering the computer does most of the leg work. Hmmm, going to try standing and gauge my results. Thanks for the tip!


  7. Thanks for the clue. The picture shows an elegant solution to being flexible and able to go up and down.

    My immediate thought was, why not stack two of my rectangular violin cases on my work table. On goes my Macbook and I’m standing!

    Sometimes I move around anyway: kitchen table, work table in the back of the house. Now I have a nice third alternative. Feels good.

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