There are no shortage of ways available for you to improve your health by increasing your physical activity level. Regular exercise is obvious place to start, but parking farther from the store or restaurant, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and not sitting for long periods of time are other less obvious ways to combat inactivity and improve your health.
Wait, what do you mean not sitting?
For the past several years, researchers have been discovering a link between more time spent sitting and an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
So if you want to be healthy as you age, you better get on your feet.
In a new study in the journal BMC Public Health, researchers attempted to draw some conclusions as to what exactly was creating the link between standing and better health. After looking at data from almost 200,000 men and woman between the ages of 45 and 106, the researchers hypothesize that breaking up your time spent sitting can stimulate your metabolism.
When you are sitting, your muscles obviously don’t have to work very hard and are rarely contracting. This lack of activity at the cellular level slows down all of the normal processes of your body, and thus decreases your metabolism. But by breaking up the time we spend sitting throughout the day, we are stimulating lipoprotein lipase throughout our body, which is a molecule that helps utilize fat for energy production.
And don’t think for a minute that because you exercise regularly, you’re in the clear. If you hit the gym before work, that’s obviously great, but when you spend the next 8-10 hours glued to your desk you are still sitting too much. You need to get up more frequently throughout the day, even if that just means standing up while you’re on the phone or walking down the hall to deliver a message instead of shooting off a quick email. Those little breaks from sitting could pay huge dividends in the future when you consider your health.
Personally, I am a huge fan of the standing work station/desk. A few months ago I moved my laptop to a shelf that is nearly the perfect height for me to stand at, and I haven’t worked while sitting at my desk since.
If you’re unable to create a standing work station in your office, there are other options available. Before I switched to my standing desk, I used a physio ball for my desk chair. The unstable surface that the ball provides forced my core to constantly be working and contracting to help me keep my balance, which is enough to prevent such a drastic metabolic slowdown.
If you have a job that requires lots of time sitting behind a desk or at a computer, I know it can be difficult to stand for long periods throughout the day. But do your best. As awkward as it may be to try to get out of your chair every 45-60 minutes throughout the day, it’s good for you.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to do just about anything to decrease my chances of diabetes, heart disease and premature death.
So take a cue from R.E.M., and stand, both at work and in the place where you live.