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Sitting At Work For Hours Can Be As Unhealthy As Smoking

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Take a stand for your health — literally.

Doctors are urging the millions of people who work at a desk all day to stand up or walk around the office.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, our couch-potato lifestyle is killing us at about the same rate as smoking.

And it’s not just sitting around at home; it’s also our sit-for-hours workdays that are part of an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle.

“Sitting is probably killing me,” said Linda Caufield, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Caufiled is right. A number of studies have shown that prolonged sitting is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even early death.

“Smoking certainly is a major cardiovascular risk factor, and sitting can be equivalent in many cases,” said Dr. David Coven, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. “The fact of being sedentary causes factors to happen in the body that are very detrimental.”

A recent study shows levels of physical activity and lower levels of sitting time were positively associated with excellent health and quality of life.

The obvious solution is to exercise more, but busy lifestyles and a common aversion to exercise make it hard to compensate for hours of sitting at a desk.

The good news, said Dr. Dermont Phelan, of the Cleveland Clinic, is “that doesn’t mean that we have to go to the gym for 30 minutes in the day. Just a brisk walk, and we don’t have to do it continuously. Even doing 10 minutes three times a day will work.”

While not an equal substitute for exercise, some doctors recommend getting up once an hour from your desk, even if it’s just to walk around briefly or go to the bathroom. Some people have even started using combination treadmill desks at work — anything that contracts our muscles and gets blood flowing.

“It dampens down inflammation,” Phelan explained. “It dampens down the risk of depositing plaque in the coronary arteries.”

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