Health Check for the Internal Auditor – Sitting

Several studies have recently been done to determine the health effects of prolonged sitting. Here are but a few articles on the matter:

As internal auditors, sitting at a desk for extended periods of time is a normal part of the job. The conventional wisdom is that sitting for long periods of time can be as dangerous to us as smoking. That’s a shocking statement, but it’s reality. Our jobs could be shortening our lives and affecting our quality of life.

I have an adjustable desk in my office. The desk can adjust from 45 inches to 22 inches. This allows me to stand for much of the day but it also allows me to sit (albeit on a balance ball) for some of the day. I have found this to be extremely beneficial to my health, my posture, and my general state of mind as I go through the day.

I recognize that many of you are not in the position to have your desk replaced with an electronic, adjustable desk, there are other things you can do to improve your situation.

Adjustable Standing/Sitting Desk Tops

If you can’t afford/get budget for a full sized adjustable desk or your office/cube won’t accommodate one, perhaps a desk top version may work.  I’ve found versions from $35 to $350.  These will allow you to spend periods of time standing and sitting.

Breaking up the Day

Most health and fitness coaches that address office workers recommend breaking up your day by taking frequent breaks from sitting.  There are a few ways to implement this:

  • As a general rule of thumb, we should take a short standing/walking break every 30 minutes.  An easy way to accomplish this is to set a timer.  I like the idea of having a nice looking 30 minute hourglass.
  • When I’m working from other offices. I make sure I’m standing for phone calls (It is worth noting that your voice sounds better when you are standing).

Other activities

Beyond this, I’d also recommend you consider ways to increase your activity level each day.  A few ways to accomplish this:

  • Park further from the door so you walk more before work and after (and during lunch if you use your car)
  • Use a restroom that is further from your office.  As an added benefit, you’re likely to run into different people in the office than you usually would.
  • If you’re a data wonk like me, you may benefit from investing in a FitBit or other biometric tool.  These tools allow us to set movement goals.
  • Ensure mobility is a part of your regular fitness activity.  For most of my life, I lifted weights and ran for fitness.  From my years of sitting and these unilateral fitness activities, I’ve lost a great deal of hip and thoracic mobility.  I’m working on this with my Crossfit workouts and incorporating mobility work beyond that.
  • Most importantly, play more.  Having a fitness related hobby like tennis, golf, volleyball, obstacle racing, etc. will allow you to change your body and improve your career.


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