It is commonly believed that occupations that require standing for long hours, such as shop sales assistants and restaurant waiters and waitresses, jeopardise the employees' health. While it is true that these people may have sore feet after a day at work, those who have the "privilege" of sitting in the office all day may actually have got a worse deal.
A New York Times article entitled Stand Up While You Read This! suggests that people who sit for long periods put themselves at increased health risk, irrespective of whether they exercise vigorously.
The article quoted the findings of a study, which observed that among people who sit in front of the television for over three hours a day, those who exercise are as fat as those who do not, and suggested that sitting a lot appears to offset the benefits of exercising a lot.
According to the article, there are two problems with sitting. The first problem is that since sitting is passive, those who sit a lot do not use as much energy as those who spend more time on their feet. The former people not only may gain weight more easily but also are more prone to health problems. The second problem has to do with the so-called "physiology of inactivity", which suggests that muscular inactivity resulting from sitting leads to less production of substances that have a beneficial effect on the body, such as lipoprotein lipase which enhances metabolism.
While you may not have to adopt the radical solutions by some to the sitting syndrome, such as using a stand-up desk which is equipped with a treadmill so that you walk while you work or an exercise bike operated television, you should take heed of the advice given at the end of the article:
Beware your chair.