You get out of bed, do your quick morning routine, get in your car, go to work and sit at your desk, get back in your car, drive home, do your evening routine, go to bed. For how many hours during the day was your butt touching a surface? For many people, it’s more than the time that they spent on their feet!
Within the last few years, there has been a slew of studies linking time spent sitting with an increased risk of mortality from all causes. The risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, chest pain, or other forms of cardiovascular disease like high cholesterol is especially astounding. One comprehensive study performed on sedentary people found an increased body mass index (BMI), C-reactive protein (a measurement of inflammation), and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol) to be associated with 25% of the participants who experienced cardiovascular events. This demonstrates that increased time sitting alters your metabolic blood markers for disease.
Why is standing better? It burns more calories and it gets your muscles contracting and blood moving. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells so that they can be replenished and function optimally. Blood also takes the waste products from your cells to your organs of elimination. Your heart is a muscle too and it needs to get a workout. It does this by beating harder when you’re exercising.
Sitting can also take a toll on your posture, and poor posture can interfere with regular breathing, cause headaches, induce upper and lower back pain, and lead to nerve pain and poor circulation. Would you believe that poor posture can even interfere with your digestion?! It’s true.
If you’re ready to protect yourself from cardiovascular conditions and other health problems, here are 8 opportunities to make a change and to decrease your time spent on your bottom.
1. Stand up every 30 minutes and go for a walk or to do some light stretching (try setting a reminder on your phone)
2. Discover a hobby that you enjoy that is outdoors (Spring is coming!)
3. Invest in a standing desk, or use a space that you can stand at (prop up your computer with books, or consider getting a tall shelf)
4. Stand up to talk on the phone
5. Walk around your house during commercial breaks (or between Netflix episodes)
6. Stand on the bus
7. Walk to your co-worker’s desk instead of calling or sending an email
8. Increase your distance to objects and activities i.e. park far from the mall doors, go to the bathroom on a different floor, and take the stairs
According to the World Health Organization, adults age 18-64 should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. What’s moderate intensity? It means that you are able to talk but not to sing due to being out of breath from the activity.
What do you do to keep active? I love finding new locations to hike and to take my drone for great footage, as well as running around the yard after my kids. If you know of any great hiking spots, I’d love to hear about them.
 E. Stamatakis, M. Hamer, D.W. Dunstan, Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: a Population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up, J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 57 (2011) 292–299. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2010.05.065.