Sit up, stand up and repeat often. Sedentary people can put their prolonged chair-sitting days behind them with a few simple, strategic behavioral changes, says a new study by researchers at Western University in London, Canada.
“Even if we exercise regularly, most of us sit or recline for an average of 11 hours a day,” said Wuyou (Yoah) Sui, a PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology at Western. “Our bodies just aren’t designed to function well with such low levels of activity — we all have to move more often than we do, or endure a variety of chronic health issues.”
Research shows that the cumulative impact of sitting all day for years is associated with a range of health problems, from obesity to diabetes to cancer. Because the average office worker spends 5 hours and 41 minutes sitting each day at his or her desk, some describe the problem with a pithy new phrase that’s undeniably catchy: “Sitting is the new smoking.”
“Sit-stand desks are an easy way to get a boost in energy expenditure that fits into America’s current office culture. By combining the act of standing for part of the day with other casual activities — say, opting to walk to the printer farthest away from your work area or choosing to use the restroom that’s located a couple of flights of stairs away — you can achieve a meaningful amount of extra energy expenditure while at work that could aid in weight control,” said Bethany Barone Gibbs, Assistant Professor of Health and Physical Activity within Pitt’s School of Education. “It is important that we understand standing at work isn’t going to burn as many calories as going for a brisk walk or a long run. However, our findings add to a growing field of research that shows the benefits of sit-stand desks, including increases in productivity and energy, and lower pain, blood sugar, and potentially blood pressure.”
Are sit-stand desks the cure for modern obesity? No. Although, in my opinion, any reason to get out of your chair and get your blood moving is a step in the right direction. (Read my previous blog, Sitting is Dangerous to Your Health, to learn more tips to get you out of your chair.)
Not interested in buying a sit-stand desk? There are additional easy ways to get moving throughout the workday. For instance, stand during phone calls, make a few short trips to the water fountain instead of one lingering visit or replace departmental email conversations with walk-and-talks.
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