Stand Up Against Sitting

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Image of man standing by table

Odds are you are on the bed, couch, or in a chair right now, which means you might have what is arguably the most common health problem in America today—sitting disease. It sounds silly but prolonged sitting from morning until bedtime is what doctors call sedentary living and it is the culture we have created for ourselves. Research has shown that this plays a significant role in many of the most troublesome health issues of our time; including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

The  sitting routine of a typical American consists of: 2 hours for meals, at least 1 hour of sitting in the car/bus/train while commuting, 8 hours behind a desk using a computer, up to 5 hours watching tv and 7 hours sleeping equals sitting or laying down for 23 of the 24 hours in the day. Think about your typical day. How many hours do you spend sitting or laying down? Can you honestly say you are on your feet for 3 hours a day? Often I find I really have to work at not being sedentary even though I work out. The lifestyles we have created for ourselves are much more conducive to a sedentary lifestyle.

But there is good news! Until recently, experts believed the only way to combat this sitting diseases is formal exercises sessions, but new research shows that just being up and about throughout the day can help to negate the effects of sitting. This idea makes sense because the typical American lifestyle from decades ago meant being up on our feet moving around throughout the day in the field or a factory. And it has not been until recently when we began to sit for living that we have seen a rise in chronic disease.

There are several ways to get up and moving throughout the day. Try to incorporate some of these suggestions into your daily routine:

  1. Turn all your walking into a heart-pumping activity. Pick up the pace when you walk around the office or to and from your car. Walking faster burns more calories increases muscle strength and is great for your heart and lungs
  2. Take the stairs. Climbing the stairs for two minutes five days a week burns the same amount of calories as a 36-minute walk.
  3. Add a 15-minute walk into your lunchtime.
  4. Spend at least 1 hour outdoors weekly. There is a direct correlation between fitness levels and the amount of time you spend outdoors vs indoors. People who spend a lot of time outdoors are typically more energized, upbeat, and fit.
  5. At work try standing whenever you get a phone call or if possible walk around your office.
  6. Try walking meetings. You can use a small pad and pen to jot down ideas. I like to use the notes feature on my phone. Getting your body moving gets your blood flowing and your brain working hard to come up with better ideas!
  7. Get a standing desk. Ideally every 15 to 20 minutes you should stand up. But if that is not possible a standing desk is a great alternative. You can alternate between working standing and seated throughout the day.

There are a lot of ways you can change your routine to incorporate less sitting and more standing. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Aside from health benefits, you will notice your hips, back, and other joints are less tight from remaining still or bent for the entirety of your day. So take a literal stand for your health today!

For more information on sedentary lifestyles, standing, and physical activity contact Olivia Jones via email olivia_jones@ncsu.edu or phone 252-232-2261.

Written By

Photo of Olivia Jones, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionOlivia JonesArea Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences (252) 232-2261 (Office) olivia_jones@ncsu.eduCurrituck County, North Carolina
Updated on Jun 15, 2018
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