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The Benefits of Standing

In desk, New York Times, ScienceDaily, sitting, standing, standing desk, WebMD, work, work environment, workplace on December 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm

How many hours a day would you say you sit? Think about it.

Many of us sit at a desk in front of a computer screen for 8 or more hours a day. We also go home and spend time on the couch watching tv or surfing the web (or both).

So how much time does the average person spend sitting each day?

According to ScienceDaily, American adults spend an average of 55% of their day engaged in sedentary pursuits. Considering an 8 hour sleep cycle, that leaves the average person in a reported sitting pattern for 8.8 hours a day.

The problem? Sitting too much is a serious health threat. WebMD says “being sedentary, which can include sitting for long periods of time, has been linked to diabetes and death from heart disease or stroke.”

Also, as noted in The New York Times, the body’s functionality slows in a sedentary pattern. In 2005, Dr. James Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, conducted a series of studies in which he measured a participant’s body fat, content of exhalation, and calorie-burning rate. Then participants were fed a strictly measured diet for a two month period and told not to exercise. After accessing how many calories each participant needed to maintain their current body weight, Levine upped their calorie intake by 1,000 calories. (yikes!) What he found is that some participants put on the pounds, as expected, while others gained very little or no weight at all.

 The explanation? The participants who managed to maintain their body weight after a 1,000 calorie surplus were subconsciously more active than those who gained weight. i.e taking the stairs rather than the elevator, jogging down the hall to the water cooler rather than walking, etc. Well of course it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out, unfortunately exercising is not quite the answer to all-day sitting.

But wait, Sitting All day is Worse for You than You Might Think.

Just ask Marc Hamilton, an inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. According to Hamilton, “This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol to fall.”

So how do we change our sitting habits? Well, you could work out from the time you get off work to the time you go to bed, but who has time for that?

How about standing more at work?!?!?!!

Here’s How to Ease Into a Standing Routine. And trust me, you’ll want to ease into it or you’ll end up killing your feet and giving it up completely.

LifeHacker suggests you “start by just standing more throughout the day: commit to one task daily where you stand (phone calls, email, etc), and stand during breaks and meetings.

From there, get yourself a cheap standing desk (you have tons of cheap options), and then commit to standing for one hour a day for the first week. Then gradually increase that over time.” Also, you might want to pick up a padded or anti-fatigue floor mat.

Happy standing!


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