My first real job after college was in newsroom. Being a copy editor was a fun job, but it also required some long days – and pretty often. There were many times I’d realize late in the day that I had not even gotten up to use the restroom. This unhealthy behavior, if it had continued, could’ve eventually cut my life short.
How long do you sit at a desk, on a couch, in a car per day?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the average American spends more than eight hours each day sitting. Do you fall into that category?
An article by Prevention Magazine posted in the Star-Telegram points out that all this sitting significantly increases the risk of premature death. “The moment you go from walking slowly to sitting, your active calorie-burn rate drops from roughly thee per minute to one,” says the article. Over time, your good cholesterol (HDL) levels fall and you can gain weight, develop diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
I saw the reduced calorie-burn phenomenon first-hand earlier this year when I wore a Bodybugg, which measured my exact calorie-burn rate. When I was sitting, I burned one or less calories per minute. Usually, moving around, I burned three to five. Running, I burned about 11 or 12 calories per minute, if I remember correctly.
To help combat the “sitting epidemic” in America, James A. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic developed a program called NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis). The article in the Star-Telegram explains it as a new way of thinking – add mini boosts of energy throughout the day to help raise your calorie burn rate.
The plan advises you to find a way to calculate your calories burned (they suggest the Gruve, but other products include the Bodybugg, like I mentioned above, and the BodyMedia FIT armband); start moving more; and follow a fruit- and vegetable-heavy diet.
What I found most helpful, though, are some of their tips to help break up the desk-sitting routine. That’s something I can start now! You can visit the article to see them all.

But here are a few I liked:
• Stand up and march during your favorite TV shows.
• Walk around your home, yard or neighborhood while on the phone.
• Drink lots of water at work. (You’ll stand up for refills and trips to the bathroom.)
• Hover just above your chair in a squat position for 15 seconds every hour.
• Set your computer alarm to ring hourly – stand up for one to five minutes each time it goes off.
• At home, help your kids build a fort.

The article also suggests investing in a treadmill desk, but those are pretty expensive. I recently found a desk attachment that fits on my existing treadmill and allows me to work on my laptop while walking. I bought it for my husband, but I’ve been using it a lot. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than sitting, right?

Well, I just burned 100 calories writing this article, so you tell me.

How do find ways to break up your sitting routine?