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Sitting Is the New Smoking—So Stop Doing It 8 Hours a Day

I saw the Facebook photo you posted of your treadmill desk. Why did you buy one? Can you concentrate and work efficiently while using it?

➽Almost three years ago I committed to adopting a healthier lifestyle, and I lost 62 pounds. In addition to better eating habits, I promised myself to move more, which was easy at first because I hadn’t been moving at all. I have slowly but steadily added more movement into my routine. I hired a trainer who tortures me once a week with exercises. I walk to and from my office in New York City, 28 blocks roundtrip. Instead of taking the elevator to the fourth floor, I usually take the stairs. Nothing worthy of Olympic gold, but significant for a couch potato.

Then I realized that despite those efforts, I was still sitting at least eight hours a day. I had read that sitting is the new smoking—a line that stuck with me—and I envisioned researchers concluding in coming years that sitting cuts short many lives.

So I traded my desk and chair for a standing treadmill desk. (Actually my husband, Peter, did it by buying one for me for our 20th anniversary—a purchase that followed much hinting on my part.) My treadmill desk cost $1,446 with shipping and setup, but there are other brands and models at all price ranges.

At first, naysayers told me that walking while working on a computer would be too inefficient. That my legs and back would ache. That in a week my contraption would be on the curb. Never mind that I (like many people) often text and walk, and that my treadmill’s top speed is only 2 mph. But I admit to worrying that I’d tire of it as I had other exercise equipment, such as my elliptical, bike and kettle bells.

But now, several months in, I’m hooked. My average speed is 1.3 mph, which isn’t distracting because I got the rhythm down—which happened quickly. I alternate between working while walking and working while standing.

I log 4 to 6 miles every day, and I monitor my progress on the desktop box that tracks speed, time and distance. I take two to three breaks a day and sit in a chair for a few minutes to talk to colleagues. I keep comfortable slip-on sneakers in my office so I’m always ready.

Walking while working has become my new normal. I’m happier than when I sat all day because I know I’m doing something positive for my health.

I encourage others to move more, too. First, monitor how much time you spend sitting; doing that alone will probably inspire you to alter your habits! Then you can buy gear, or if you’re lucky, use your workplace’s community standing or treadmill desks.

Even if you can’t use a treadmill desk all day, you can still reduce your sitting time by making it a rule that if you’re on the phone (whether talking or texting), you’re on your feet.

I predict that you’ll quickly embrace your healthy new habits.

Check out 4 creative ways to walk while you work to help reduce your sit time.

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