Have you ever thought about how much you sit every day? If you haven’t, then stand up and think about it. And while you’re up—read the rest of this article.
The Surprising Health Benefits of Standing
Over the past two years, a number of studies have highlighted the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Such a lifestyle contributes to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and other common health problems in America. But more research is showing that it’s not necessarily how much—or how little—exercise people get, but how much they sit.
You can experience health benefits by simply taking more time to stand up every day. In fact, it could help you control blood sugar naturally. You don’t have to walk around at a fast pace, go for a jog, or increase your activity drastically; instead, you literally have to stand up. That’s all.
Standing up activates a number of large muscle groups in your legs and core, thus requiring energy. The energy is derived from glycogen (sugar stores in muscles) and can lead to lower levels of blood glucose. In addition to lowering blood sugar levels—which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease—it can also improve cholesterol.
And as much as standing can help, activity can increase the benefits. But before one can run, they must walk—and before one can walk or run, they must stand.
Tips to Help You Stand More Often
To include more standing in your life, you have to make conscious decisions to do so. But as you’ll see, it’s really quite easy, and the adjustments are pretty small. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, you can find ways to improve your health with standing.
Park with Purpose
You might not be able to walk to the store, church, office, or wherever you needed to drive, but it doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in a bit more time on your feet. Instead of looking for the closest spot to the entrance, park further away or in a different lot altogether. The “best” spot isn’t the closest one to the door when it comes to your health.
Stand When You’re Watching TV
If you like to relax while watching television, stand up every 20 minutes or so—or even just during commercial breaks. You could also put a piece of exercise equipment (e.g. a treadmill or an exercise bike) in your TV room and exercise in front of the TV.
Walk While You’re Chatting on the Phone
Another way to spend more time on your feet is to walk around when you’re talking on the phone. If you have a corded phone, try installing a cordless phone in another room to allow for both options. Better yet, if you have a cell phone, go for a walk around the block while making your call.
Consider Standing as Important as Sleep
You might have heard before that you should aim for six to eight hours of sleep every night for optimal health. It might make sense to think of standing the same way. Try to be on your feet for 10 minutes every half hour. Spend eight of those minutes standing and two minutes moving around. You can even set a timer to help you remember.
The data is in: too much sitting is harmful to your health. Take a stand against heart disease and diabetes…literally!
Sources for Today’s Article:
Owen, N., et al., “Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior,” Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 2010; doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e3181e373a2.
Healy, G.N., et al., “Replacing sitting time with standing or stepping: associations with cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers,” European Heart Journal, July 30, 2015; http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/07/29/eurheartj.ehv308.