You might not want to take this sitting down…

You might not want to take this sitting down…

It seems like every time we turn around there is something else that we have done for centuries – millennia even – that is now considered ‘not good for you’. Sometimes there is little or no scientific evidence to support these claims.  And sometimes there is.  So if you are sitting comfortably, you might want to reconsider your position!

There have been many studies over recent years linking our undeniably more sedentary lifestyle with all sorts of diseases and health problems.  Some of them are obvious, but others are not.

Sitting – whether it is at a desk, in the car or in front of the tv – increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  That probably comes as no real surprise.  What might surprise you is sitting is linked to an increased risk of cancer – particularly lung, uterine and colon, and the incidence of depression and anxiety.  Sitting also causes an increase in risk of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and lower back problems.  Not to mention it causes a shortening of the hip flexor muscle group, leading to hip and lower back problems.

Well, that’s quite a list!  The problem is many of us spend so many hours of our day sitting.  At work, in meetings, on the bus or in a car.  Relaxing in front of the tv – even enjoying a dinner out with friends.  And one of the truly scary things is that some studies have shown that spending a few hours a week at the gym makes little or no difference.   So, what can we do to reduce the risks?  The short answer is stand up.  That’s it?  Well, almost.  There are some real benefits to standing that you might not expect.

Standing – even when not moving – burns more calories than sitting.  The muscle activity required seems to kick-start the process related to breaking down sugars and fats.  Your Cardiovascular system will work more efficiently, as will – this might surprise you – your bowels.

Are you standing up yet?  I know I am!

So sure, get some more exercise, but when that isn’t possible or practical spend some time standing up.  Here are some ideas:

  • When you are on the phone, stand up. If you are on a mobile or hands free, walk while you talk
  • If it’s practical, try and invest in a standing desk – there are even some that can move up and down, so if you do need to sit down for a while you can
  • Stand during meetings
  • Try walking around the office more – don’t phone or email – pop in and visit your colleagues
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift
  • At home, stand up and do some ironing while watching tv

If you can combine these simple changes to the way you do the things you are already doing you will have a positive impact on your health – and you might even notice a positive impact on your waistline!

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