5 Reasons to Get Off Your Butt at Work

Burning the candle at both ends to launch your startup? Above all, don't ignore addressing this important health risk.

learn more about Natasha Withers

By Natasha Withers

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When an entrepreneur is burning the candle at both ends to launch a startup, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and stress might be the three things of highest concern as far as personal health. But there's a silent threat lurking on the sidelines: sitting.

Simply sitting for extended periods of time can do serious damage to every aspect of a person's well-being from causing a sore back to decreasing productivity and increasing the likelihood of premature death. Who knew that sitting around was so dangerous?

Here are five important reasons to rise up from the office chair right now:

Related: 3 Easy Tricks For Getting Fit at the Office

1. Sitting might be harmful even for those who exercise daily.

Prolonged sitting in and of itself can put individuals at risk of dying earlier. Numerous studies, including one by the University of Queensland, found that prolonged sitting, whether in front of a TV or a desk or while driving a car, compromises people's health. Unfortunately, it has been shown that regular exercise won't negate the damage from extensive sedentary behavior.

2. Sedentary habits boost the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

According to one study published in the clinical journal Diabetologia, sitting for protracted periods of time increases a person's risk for diabetes, heart disease, and death. A Kansas State University and University of Western Sydney study of middle-aged men found a strong correlation between sitting for long periods of the day and self-reports of chronic illness at some point.

Related: 8 Tips for Staying Healthy in an Open Office

3. Give the back some relief.

Sitting for long periods of time can lead to back pain. The natural curves of the spine are more difficult to maintain in a sitting position, which can put strain on ligaments and muscles.

Combat this with a good chair, a lower lumbar pillow and core stabilization exercises. But it's hard to hold good posture for hours at a time even with these aids. The best bet is to give the back a break by getting up.

4. Exercise is a natural mood elevator.

The positive effects from being active are reason enough to curtail sitting. Exercise is a natural mood elevator, so much so that research has found that it can be as effective as prescription drugs at treating mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

Related: How to Get a Workplace Wellness Program for Your Office

5. Taking breaks increases productivity.

A study by the University of Illinois found that taking brief breaks can vastly improve people's productivity. The brain begins to lose focus on a task after a long time of concentration, leading to poor performance. Taking a few quick breaks to deactivate and reactivate the focus on goals can make it significantly easier to concentrate.

Get up as much as possible. Switching to a standing desk or a treadmill desk is ideal, but if that's not logistically possible, any movement is beneficial. Stand up during phone calls or while eating lunch. Take the stairs whenever feasible. Walk to copy machines or bathrooms that are farther away.

And just because exercise won't reverse the ill effects of sitting for too long isn't a reason for abandoning it. Do try to reap the benefits of exercise. For optimal health, obtain 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise every week.

Related: Don't Rubber-Stamp Your Company's Wellness Program

Natasha Withers

Physician at One Medical Group

Dr. Natasha Withers is a New York City-based physician at One Medical Group. She has expertise in all aspects of primary care as well as extensive training in osteopathic medicine.

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