“The common denominator in the modern workday is our, um, tush,” says Nilofer Merchant, a Stanford University lecturer, former CEO and author. “Sitting is so prevalent… it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not OK. In that way, I’ve come to see that sitting is the smoking of our generation.”
Medical evidence supports this assertion by Merchant, founder and former CEO of Rubicon and author of The New How and 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era. A University of South Carolina study found that men who were sedentary more than 23 hours a week had a 64 percent greater risk of dying of heart disease than those who were sedentary 11 or fewer hours per week.
Stan Lee, 90—standing at his desk since at least the 1950s to create his Spider-Man, Iron Man, Fantastic Four and other comics—could be the perfect case study. Today’s stand-up and treadmill desks refine Lee’s idea, but they can be pricey. Here’s a thrifty solution: Several times a day—maybe once per hour—take a minute to stand up and dance, wiggle, take steps back and forth, and march in place to lower blood sugar, triglycerides and waist size, according to an Australian study. Set reminders on your computer to launch the habit. Another tip: At home, get active during TV commercials.