The true co$t of sitting at a desk

Sitting at a desk can have some serious effects on your health and your wallet. Three of the most costly health conditions in America today are perpetuated by a life spent behind a desk: diabetes, obesity, and chronic back pain.


Diabetes is the most expensive disease in America today. Each year over $186 billion is spent combating it. Diabetes costs not only insurance companies, but also any individuals with a diagnosis can expect their out of pocket insurance expenses to more than double.

Additionally, according to the American Diabetes Association, 84 million Americans are prediabetic, and 90 percent of them don’t know about it.

An average employee with diabetes will miss at least one more week of work per year than a healthy peer.

Silver lining:

Exercising just a half hour every day can reduce your risk of diabetes by 24 percent.(1) Beyond that, type 2 diabetes is largely influenced by your diet, and prediabetes can be reversed with diet and exercise alone.


Obesity in and of itself doesn’t damage your wallet, unless you count larger meal portions as a major expense. However, all the negative health issues that come along with obesity can leave your pockets feeling lighter. As a person’s BMI (body mass index) increases beyond healthy levels, so do the number of sick days, medical claims, and healthcare costs. An obese adult spends 42 percent more on direct healthcare than the average healthy individual.(2) In addition, an obese individual is twice as likely to be on prescribed medication. (3)

Silver lining:

While an improved diet is the fastest way to improve body composition, adding daily cardiovascular exercise can greatly lower your risk of these aforementioned costs.

The beginning part of any weight loss program is always the easiest. Even small changes like removing sugary beverages, getting a good night’s sleep, and eating vegetables can have a huge impact on your weight!

Chronic Pain

It should come as no surprise that the human body is not meant to be seated in the same position for 8-12 hours every day. Chronic back pain has become a $41 billion industry in America today, and business is still growing.  

Chronic back and neck pain are exacerbated by spending your day bent over a computer or struggling to read tiny messages on your phone. Unfortunately, visiting the chiropractor and getting massages every other week is not a cost-effective form of pain management.

Silver lining:

The good news is that chronic pain can be prevented!  Probably the most important thing you can do to prevent chronic pain is to bring consciousness to your posture.

Start by thinking about how you are sitting, and make a mental note to sit with your chest up and back straight, take breaks during the work day, and walk around as much as possible. 

No matter what you do for a living, being active and dedicating 30 minutes a day to personal maintenance will save you money!


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Thank you,

Jake Dermer



(2)The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Stroke Association, and the American Heart Association. A Nation at Risk: Obesity in the United States, A Statistical Sourcebook. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2005. (accessed April 14, 2008).

(3) Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity: Payer-and Service-Specific Estimates. Health Affairs, 28(5): w822-831, 2009