When you read this blog, you will probably be sitting in an armchair or, possibly, at your desk. In that case, you won’t be standing-up and walking around and the consequences are that you might be taking years off your life, just by sitting!
There is also the possibility that you are increasing your risk of
developing heart disease, blood clots on the brain and even certain types of
cancer, just by being sedentary. This is all rather scary bearing in mind how much sitting most of us do per day.
Recent evidence suggests that being seated for much of the day can also increase your
risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, standing-up daily for an extra 90 minutes, plus regular exercise, may actually lower your chances of developing this serious metabolic disorder. The incidence of diabetes is increasing dramatically in many areas of the developed world including America, Europe and the Middle East including the UAE and the prevention, plus better cardiac health, are both possible by adopting
some healthy lifestyle habits.
Standing Room Only
The longer you spend sitting, the higher the amounts of blood glucose and fat that
accumulate in your blood regardless of the time that you spend exercising. Scientists have found that a person’s metabolic rate crashes to a minimum figure when sitting but that standing-up for an extra three hours a day, even without exercising, could on-average burn-off about 3.6 kg of fat a year.
The current advice to lowering the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes is to
exercise regularly but, perhaps, it is now time to consider also the recommendation
to stand-up more often, especially at work during the day.
Studies suggest that many of us spend about 9 – 10 hours a day sitting, either at the
office, in the car or train, or in front of the television. But some people spend even longer sitting down, sometimes for up to 16 hours per day, leaving little time for any other physical activity during waking hours.
But how exactly is sitting detrimental to our health? The effects of spending too much
time in a chair are manifold. Neurological activity in the leg muscles shuts
down; our body effectively stops burning calories; enzymes that break-down fat
drop by 90 percent; HDL (good) cholesterol production drops by 20% and the risk
of diabetes increases by about 24%.
As soon as we sit, our blood sugar is adversely affected but as soon as we stand up, our blood sugar starts to go down; tri-glycerides will improve and we become overall
mentally sharper and more productive.
So what can you do about it?
- Stand whenever you can: If you are not typing on your keyboard, then try
- Office desks: Standing-up work-stations are a great, new
- When the phone rings: Get on your feet while you are speaking.
- Hold ‘walking’ meetings: It may be possible to sometimes take your
team outside the office to walk about whilst you are having a brainstorming session.
- Introduce standing meetings: These will have the advantage of ensuring
that these don’t run over time as people will be dissuaded from becoming too
comfortable and better able to focus on the task in hand.
- Walk to speak to your colleague instead of emailing! This not only better for
your health but it can also improve your interpersonal communication skills.
- Have a one-minute micro break every hour: Stand up. March in place for 20 seconds. Reach down and touch your toes for 20
seconds. Use the next 20 seconds to tidy your desk as you walk around it!
- Walk over to the filing cabinet instead of rolling your chair over to reach it!
- Travelling by metro: Stand rather than sit for at least half the
It is very easy to get caught up in what you are doing and forget to stand and likewise, at the end of a busy day, it is easy to sit in a chair and the only part of your body that you exercise is your finger on the remote control!
So if my column has focused your mind on standing rather than sitting, then it will have been a worthwhile read.
Anyway, I must finish now because I need to stand up and go for a short walk, myself.
What about you?
- Sitting for long periods is unhealthy
- Standing for a few minutes each hour is beneficial
- ‘Work & Walk’ is the new idea in the office
Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News
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