World Bytes: Chained to the Desk, Sitting is Killing You

By Terrance Malkinson

A recent article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reports on the adverse health outcomes associated with excessive sitting-time, which include chronic disease and premature mortality [Staiano, et al, 2014]. Based on a cross-sectional U.S. National Health and Nutrition Evaluation survey of 4,56o non-institutionalized adults ⥠20 years of age, the project revealed among other findings that "self-reported sitting time was directly associated with adverse cardiometabolic risk factors consistently across sex, and race groups in a representative U.S. sample, independent of other risk factors." Numerous other research reports also link sitting time with adverse health, as well as low employee productivity. As early as 1953, it was noted in London, England and reported in Lancet that the risk of coronary heart disease was twice as great in bus drivers who were seated all day than in bus conductors who spent most of their time standing and moving.

So how do you mitigate the risk? Here are some ideas:

  • Create a pre-programmed alert on your computer and mobile device to remind you every 30 minutes to get up from your chair and move for 4-5 minutes.
  • Schedule standing or walking meetings rather than meetings where participants sit around a table.
  • Stand up whenever you take a drink or snack.
  • Walk over to nearby colleges and deliver some messages directly rather than by email.
  • Use a stability balance ball chair to sit on which employs healthful muscle activity to maintain balance.
  • As reported by Hamer et. al, 2014, age is not an excuse.  Significant health benefits are seen even by those who take up physical activity relatively later in life.

Unshackle those chains! You will become a better person.

References and Further Information

Staiano, A.E., D.M. Harrington, T.V. Barreira, and P.K. Katzmarzyk.  Sitting Time and Cardiometabolic Risk in US Adults: Associations by Sex, Race, Socioeconomic Status and Activity Level.  British Journal of Sports Medicine.  48(3):213-219, 2014.

Hamer, M., K.I Lavoie, and S.L. Bacon. Taking Up Physical Activity in Later Life and Healthy Ageing: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 48(3):239-243, 2014

Canadian Center for Occupation Health and Safety "Working in a Sitting Position,"


Other Bytes

Here are some of the things going on in and around the community:

  • Scott Leibs profiles 100 elite companies that manage to grow year in and year out, and discusses the reasons why they have achieved long-term success [Grow. Hire. Repeat, Inc., pp. 66-84, March 2014,]. In his introduction, Leibs states that 25 percent of all businesses fail within the first year, and nearly half fail by their third year.  Based on the 2013 work of Gary Kunkle, who launched a research study of more than 100,000 U.S. based mid-size businesses, the research goal was to identify companies that are sustained-growth champions. The criterion of sustained growth was increasing �head count� for five consecutive years (2007-2012).  Inc. will continue throughout the year to report on these companies and their unique patterns of growth that lead to sustainable continuous growth.

  • Compiled by reporter associate Caroline Fairchild, FORTUNE‘s annual ranking of �The World’s Most Admired Companies� appears in the March 2014 issue  [pp. 123-130,].  Topping the list is Apple, followed by Amazon, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, and Starbucks.  Research methodology is provided.

  • aking Control of E-mail With Uniform Retention Rules is the title of an article by William Saffady in the January/February 2014 issue of Information Management [48(1):20-26, 2014,].  Based on the his recent book E-Mail Retention and Archiving: Issues and Guidance for Compliance and Discovery (available from the ARMA online bookstore), Saffady provides a user-friendly strategy that is legally compliant for email retention.

  • Social media is emerging as an important communication tool for use in public emergencies.  Fred Durso in his article #Are You Prepared? [NFPA Journal, 108(1):39-45, January/February 2014,] discusses how the public is increasingly turning toward social media during emergencies occurs, and how and why planners and first responders should be integrating social media planning into their emergency communications strategies. Links are provided to the National Fire Protection Associations and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention manuals on emergency communications planning.

  • Genetically modified food is controversial.  In his article, Why We’ll Need Genetically Modified Foods [MIT Technology Review, 117(1):29-37, January/February 2014,], David Rothman discusses how biotechnology crops might help to feed the world as climate change and other factors may make it increasingly difficult to feed the world’s population.  In a second article in the same issue [The Robots Running This Way, pp. 39-45 ], Will Knight examines Boston Dynamics’ efforts to build robots that walk and run like living creatures, and how they are being tested in challenging terrains.

  • Chris Raymond profiles 25 innovators who are reinventing the American Dream in his article, "Movers and Makers [Popular Mechanics, 191(4):54-60, April 2014,].  Raymond looks at do-it-yourself Innovators working in their garages, at their kitchen tables, and in workshops.  In the history of innovation, there are many examples of similar people who were passionate about tinkering and invention and made remarkable contributions to society. 

  • When Malaysia Airlines MH370 dropped off the radar shortly after it departed Kuala Lumpur on 8 March, officials were at a loss for information on the status and location of the Boeing 777. The search for the missing airplane has shifted dramatically from the South China Sea to the Andaman Sea and to the southern Indian Ocean, where satellite imaging has captured debris of unknown origin floating in the ocean. This is not the first plane that has vanished and been difficult or impossible  to find. Over the past 50 years, dozens of planes have vanished, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The interactive map linked below plots incidents of missing aircraft that carried at least 20 passengers [Planes That Have Vanished Without a Trace].  Many people are asking the questions: how can an airplane disappear without a trace in today’s interconnected world? And why is the emergency aircraft location technology so outdated? In his July 2010 article in IEEE Spectrum, Krishna Kavi [Beyond the Black Box, 30 October 2010] examined these issues and suggested that instead of storing flight data on board an aircraft, that cockpit voice and aircraft performance data should be sent in real-time through satellite links to ground-based receivers. Kavi states, The black box may be the greatest single invention in the history of safety engineering. Nevertheless, technology has moved on, and we can “we must”improve on it. In time the answer will emerge for flight MH370 and technology likely would not have changed the outcome. However, technology would have alerted aviation authorities immediately, provided reliable information on location and aircraft status, and could lead to solutions to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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