Updated: Apr 5, 2020
You may not want to sit down for this one. Sitting all day is detrimental for your health. Modern Americans can sit for up to 8 hours a day on average: in the car, at work, the kitchen table, our home computer, and in front of the television. A sedentary lifestyle is not only bad for our waistlines, there is mounting evidence that sitting long periods also increases our risk of disease. Is this more depressing health news? Fortunately, this one actually has a simple solution…STAND UP!
If you have a sedentary job, health researchers suggest you take a break at least every 25-30 minutes and get up and walk around for 1-2 minutes. And if you find that walking around is impossible in any given situation, just stand up! We burn calories just by standing. If you don't have a fancy stand/sit desk at the office, there are some inexpensive portable options you can purchase. You can also create a standing computer station at home DIY style by stationing your computer on any surface the height of your lowest rib, like a stack of books or a cardboard box.
Why go to this trouble?
Heart Disease: Blood flow is sluggish during long sitting, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart. It’s linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Sedentary people are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those more active.
Diabetes: The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin so the pancreas over produces it, which can lead to diabetes. A blood sugar hack is to do some sort of movement before each meal; think 20 squats,10 jumping jacks, or a 25 second plank. Just that little extra movement will help to keep your blood sugar lower after eating.
Cancer: Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants which kill cell-damaging free radicals.
Easy solutions to the all-day sit dilemma:
Parking far from the office entrance
Walk over to speak with a co-worker instead of emailing
Stand when talking on the phone
Take the scenic route around your building
Set your computer on a countertop
Invest in a standing workstation
Stand when someone comes in your office to talk
Have walking meetings
Hold a plank between emails
Stand or exercise while watching TV