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Become a stand-up office worker: How an new desk can add years to your life

You’d better sit down for this. A recent study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise of 17 000 men and women over a period of 13 years found that those who sat for 6 hours a day were 54% more likely to die from a heart attack than there more mobile compatriots. This was true even in cases where the office workers were non-smokers and participated in regular exercise. Now a simple solution can actually help to prolong your life, improve your posture and generally make you happier and healthier.

The stand-up desk has a small but dedicated following. You can buy stand-up desks which allow you to raise or lower the level of your desk by turning a small handle.

Other office workers have taken on a more MacGyver approach to improving their working environment. They have used boxes, TV dinner trays and chairs to help raise their computers. In one memorable case, a treadmill was converted to facilitate walking and typing; talk about multi-tasking!

Another 2010 study by the American Cancer Society (published in the American Journal of Epidemiology) looked at 123 216 people who had no risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or lung disease. They monitored them over a 14-year period. The findings suggested women who sat more than six hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than women who sat for three hours a day or less. For men, the mortality rate was 18% higher.

Most office supply outlets stock stand-up desks, but you can make your own stand-up desk to try out before you make an investment. You can also lobby your office manager for desks or meeting spaces that allow employees exchange ideas while standing as you would at a social event or party.

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