The Sitting Disease: health is growing at SXSW

imageIf it’s March, it must be time for South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual conference weaving music, film and interactive tracks of speakers and conferees that overcrowds and excites Austin, Texas, with a cool vibe and even cooler ideas.

I’ll be participating on Sunday 10 March 2013 at 5 pm on a panel, Sitting Will Kill You: Can Mobile Save Us?, featuring Fran Melmed, developer of the HotSeat app that nudges us to all Get Up Offa Our Things when living our typical sedentary lives; Peter Katzmarzyk, public health researcher who knows all about the relationship between too much sitting and chronic disease; and Sharon Mandler of Saatchi Wellness, whose lens is on the relationship between popular culture, communication, and health. I’ll be weaving into the conversation the political economy of sitting and health, especially focusing on the complex ecosystem in local communities that drives people to sit less. Together, our conversation will crowdsource toward some insights about how to solve the real problem.

Recent research shows that even people who get their recommended amount of vigorous exercise each day can undo the good they’re done by sitting for hours on end throughout the rest of the day. The new prescription is to get up from your desk chair every 60 to 90 minutes and move: take a walk, dance, go meet up with colleagues in a conference room for a standing meeting or, better yet, do a walking meeting as recommended by Dr. Ted Eytan of Kaiser Permanente.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  It’s not that people don’t know that moving around is necessary. Increasingly, we’re learning that it’s our environment and built systems that conspire against our best intentions. That’s why some researchers who observe activity in offices have begun to say the solution lies, in part, with interior designers and commercial architects. Steelcase, Herman Miller, Ergotron treadmill desks, and other names that have never been associated with “health” are now part of the health and wellness ecosystem. In addition, as an ecosystem, we must also look to other stakeholders who co-create health and wellness: food systems, urban and transport planners, schools, technology developers, and — yes — the health system itself. This most especially concerns health plans who can artfully design benefits that nudge us to make healthier decisions that keep us out of the doctor’s office and emergency room, well at home and on-the-job.

We’ll be brainstorming this challenge today at the Sheraton in Austin in the Creekside room at 5 pm CT. Come join the conversation! Virtually, tweets can be followed at #info2chat and #sxsw13.


About Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is a health economist, advisor and trend-weaver to organizations at the intersection of health, technology and people. Jane founded THINK-Health after spending a decade as a health care consultant in firms in the U.S. and Europe. Jane’s clients are all stakeholders in health, including technology, bio/life sciences, providers, plans, financial services, consumer products, public sector and not-for-profit organizations. Jane founded the Health Populi blog in 2007, covering health policy, technology, and consumers.

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3 Responses to The Sitting Disease: health is growing at SXSW

  1. Martin Keen March 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    The solution is to not sit while working. Be more focused and active at work. You do enough sitting while commuting and watching TV. We have the solution at focaluprightfurniture dot com!


  1. The Internet of Things in health care – technology for good in HuffPo | Health Populi - March 10, 2015

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