KUSA - Odds are your lifestyle may not be helping you to live a better life. Studies show the average American sits at least 9 1/2 hours a day, even more than they sleep.
"It's the most common human behavior," said Professor Marc Hamilton, who studies and teaches the physiology of inactivity at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.
He says long commutes, desk jobs and couch time make people more prone to heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Even worse -- some research suggests a typical daily workout may not be enough to combat these conditions for a typical office worker.
Hamilton says those 30 to 60 minutes spent in the gym do help with general fitness levels, but that only goes so far when the rest of the day is still spent stationary.
"When the muscles aren't being used that means that the metabolism of the body is vastly different than when you're up and moving about," said Hamilton.
But hope may be on the horizon for anyone who wants to take a stand against sitting.
There are some creative new ways for office workers to spend their days by walking, riding or even bouncing the hours away.
Turning exercise gear into desks and chairs is a growing trend.
Fifth grade teacher Robbi Giuliano ditched her students' chairs and rolled yoga balls into her classroom just outside Philadelphia.
"I find that it stimulates the body better and allows them to focus," said Giuliano.
She says the bouncing heads and bodies don't seem to distract from her lessons.
Other options abound, and the owner of companies like Ergo Depot in Portland, Oregon, which sells untraditional office furniture, says business is improving year to year.
Adjustable height desks hover over small, stripped-down treadmills and bikes in Ergo Depot's showroom.
The movement is meant to be slow and constant and done for several hours a day while doing normal desk work at the same time.
Various chairs that bounce or position the body in a half-standing and half-sitting posture sell well too.
Converts to this funky office furniture claim it increases their attention, productivity and general health.
Francine Dittrich works for Standard Insurance in Portland and says her company's walking stations helped her lose weight.
"Sixty pounds has really helped to just really sell me on the concept," said Dittrich.
But Dr. Hamilton says much more research is needed to see if using of these devices can truly cure the ills of sedentary life.
"The solutions that are specific to sitting for eleven hours a day are going to involve a large amount of time," said Hamilton.
Ergonomics experts recommend that people gradually transition from their normal desk to these new designs but with a doctor's approval if there is an underlying condition or injury.
Ergonomist Todd Meier says to start with short periods of standing, pedaling or walking and eventually structuring your day to include about 40% standing and 60% sitting.
"That's not an exact. It's just kind of breaking it up," said Meier.
Overall, the key may be to keep large muscles moving for longer and longer periods of time.
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