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Want To Be More Physically Active? Quit Your Job!

Monday, November 09, 2009 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD

On numerous occasions Travis and I have written on the independent benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle (view my recent lecture on the topic) as well as the dangers of increased sedentary time, such as sitting.

A new study by McCrady and Levine published online in the journal Obesity investigated the role your job might have in making you sedentary.

In the study 11 men and 10 women were monitored for a duration of 10 consecutive days to assess physical activity (or inactivity) using a Physical Activity Monitoring System composed of four inclinometers and two triaxial accelerometers that are attached to the torso, thigh, and trunk using special clothing. This methodology allows the researchers not only to get an estimate of physical activity patterns but the postures taken and thus distinguish one form of inactivity from another (standing vs. sitting vs. lying down).

What did this study find?

1. During work days people sat for 110 minutes longer than on their leisure days (597 min/day vs. 484 min/day).

2. Conversely, work days were associated with 76 less min/day of standing and walking in contrast to leisure days.

3. Based on calculations, the authors approximated that during leisure days people expend an additional 59 calories through walking than on word days (586 vs 527 calories). This may not seem like a lot, but the lack of expending 300kcals every week can really add up over the year (15 600 kcals/year or ~5 lbs of fat/year).

4. Generally, people who were more active on their work days also tended to be more active during their leisure time. This is rather reasonable – I can’t sit still for more than about 30 minutes at a time, and it doesn’t matter whether I am at work or home.

5. Lastly, the obese subjects and lean subjects in the study showed similar patterns of inactivity at work and activity during leisure – with no differences between the groups.

So given that physical inactivity is a major cause of many chronic diseases, disability, and early mortality, what is one to do?

While quitting your job may not be a viable option, being cognizant enough to increase your normal amount of activity at work is likely a good idea. You can refer to our Top 10 Ways to Become Active for some ideas.


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McCrady, S., & Levine, J. (2009). Sedentariness at Work: How Much Do We Really Sit? Obesity, 17 (11), 2103-2105 DOI: 10.1038/oby.2009.117

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3 Response to "Want To Be More Physically Active? Quit Your Job!"

  1. Jan Said,

    Why waist time on exercise reports. I found the ultimate solution, patented and all .... The Slim Belly!

    This German product will make this blog obsolete. There is an English productdescription. Although the video is in German, you don't need a pHD to understand that this must work.

    There is not enough bloodflow around the hips and waist, so massage with alternating (really important!) airpressure will solve everything. Although they do mention something about an endurance and a nutritional concept. It is a big hit in Europe, so soon coming to a town near you!

    Posted on November 10, 2009 at 12:52 PM

  2. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    Thanks Jan - That is phenomenal! We will do a post on this magnificent invention in the near future. Too bad the video is in German...

    Posted on November 10, 2009 at 1:54 PM

  3. Rach Said,

    There's an easier way than quitting your job: find a job that has a significant activity component! Then you'll still be earning an income!

    Posted on November 10, 2009 at 6:06 PM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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