Unhealthy at Any Speed?

Unhealthy at Any Speed?

Posted by Human Solution on Sep 2nd 2014

Four years ago, I was driving outside of Dallas when a semi-truck started drifting into my lane. With a median to my left and the increasingly encroaching truck to my right, all I could do is watch and brace for impact. All things considered, I got off easy; the impact totaled my car, but I wasn't hurt. Since I was heading for New York, I decided not to get a new vehicle and, four years later, I'm still not a car owner. While I've focused on the environmental and financial benefits, I recently attended a webinar that got me thinking about the health side of car ownership as well.

"Get Up – Your Life Might Depend On It" was a webinar hosted by James A. Levine M.D.,PH. D. - author, doctor, and inventor of the treadmill desk - on the dangers of our sedentary, inactive lifestyle. What do I mean? Well, think about your average day. Chances are, you get out of bed, go to work, sit in an office chair for eight hours, go home, sit at the table and eat dinner, and then move to the couch, where you sit and watch TV. That is a lot of sitting, as much as 14-16 hours per day not counting sleeping, and it is having dangerous effects on our health.

Now you may think that exercising is enough to stave off the effects of our unprecedented inactivity but, according to Dr. Levine, that simply isn't enough. After all, in order to exercise, you have to sit down in your car seat and drive to and from the gym. And, as someone who exercises, I know that I spend the whole time thinking about the chair, video games, and beer that I will be enjoying as soon as its over! Dr. Levine's work, chronicled in his new book Get Up, shows that what actually makes the difference for burning fat, staving off diabetes, and lengthening lifespans, is what he calls NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

Well, as you might suspect from the person who dreamed up the treadmill desk, the presentation contained radical solutions to the health problems caused by our inactivity. One of those solutions: ditching the car! Dr. Levine reference a model that showed what San Francisco would look like if it suddenly became car-less. The average person's commute would increase only by 18 minutes and, in exchange, the city would see premature deaths reduced by 2,404 people per year and the city would save around $34 billion per year in healthcare costs. According to Dr. Levine, that would be the single largest healthcare savings in history. In my own experience, I've found that I've felt much healthier and lost weight since I stopped owning a car.

Of course, given the reactions of my coworkers, it is more likely that we'd ban tacos before doing away with cars [NOTE: Human Solution Blog does not, and never would, endorse the banning of tacos!]. Cars are simply a fact of modern life, just like computers and office work. Rather than devolve and attempt to undo changes, we have to use our knowledge to move technology forward. Cars may be here to stay, but sitting all day doesn't have to be! Of course, until someone invents the standing car, your best bet is to attack sitting at the place where you do it most: the office. You can burn 200 more calories per day but standing just 4 hours per day at work with a standing desk like the UPLIFT 900. Or get the UPLIFT Treadmill Desk and really get moving during your work day.

Visit TheHumanSolution.com for everything you need to have a NEAT workday.

Related Reads

Interested in ergonomics?

Subscribe to our blog mailing list