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Sitting is the new smoking: Some workers switching to standing desks

PHOENIX -- A lot of people work at a job that has them sitting at a desk or cubicle eight hours a day -- but some people are changing that.

By getting desks that allow them to stand and do their job, they're improving their health and the way they feel.

Dawn Paugh, national sales manager for KTAR, is one of them. She's at her desk a lot.

"Most everything I do is on the phone or email, so it's pretty much a desk-bound position," said Paugh.

She developed some back problems because of traveling last year and had back surgery in April. She now uses a desk where she can stand and still do her work.

"This desk is something that our IT department 'jimmied' for me," Paugh said. "But if you go online, you can find all sorts of standing/sitting desk set-ups."

She said that something a friend once said to her was another reason she decided to try a standing desk.

"I have a friend that says that 'Sitting is the new smoking.'"

Paradise Valley cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson said that sentiment is exactly right.

"Sitting increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cholesterol...the list goes on and on," Wolfson said. "In fact, those people who sit longer than six hours a day have a 20 percent higher death rate than those who sit three hours or less."

Wolfson has also decided to stand more to improve his health and to set an example for others. He is having a $2,000 standing desk installed in his office. It will allow him to stand while he consults patients and does other duties at his job.

He's also trying to stand more during other situations.

"Whenever I'm on the phone, I'm standing," Wolfson said. "Often times my wife will get frustrated with me, because instead of sitting for dinner, I like to stand at dinner."

Both Paugh and Wolfson said that standing while they work gives them more energy, but Paugh has a word of caution.

"It is hard on the legs," she said. "At the end of the day, it starts to wear on me. I think that the perfect combination is some sort of combo of sitting and standing."

Wolfson said that if you do have to sit for long periods while at work, make sure that you get up and walk around at least once an hour.

Several examples of standing desks can be found at NextDesks.com.

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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