Stand Up for a Healthier You

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I recently discovered The First 20 Minutes, a new book by New York Times columnist Gretchen Reynolds. The book offers some simple advice that almost everyone can use to get fit.  One of the most interesting tips the author suggests is directed toward those of us who spend our work time tethered to a desk.  She says that standing up for two minutes after 20 minutes of sitting can have an impressive impact on how the body functions.  Research has shown that prolonged sitting is associated with many detrimental changes in our body, including reduced fat metabolism and muscle function, and increases our risk of sedentary lifestyle-related diseases.

A study on diabetes risk factors has suggested that women who sit for long periods every day may have a higher incidence of developing diabetes.  Interestingly, although the men in the study sat for the same duration of time each day (five to six hours), they didn't show the same correlation for increased diabetes risk.  This research raises lots of questions about what factors may influence the data, but the take-away is that prolonged sitting isn't good for our health.

Here are some of Reynolds' suggestions for getting some standing time in during your work day:
  • Take a walk to a water fountain or walk to a nearby colleague's office instead of calling or emailing. 
  • Store things you need just out of reach so you have to get up and walk to get them. 
  • Walk to a park and eat lunch instead of ordering in.
  • Try to take standing breaks at home, too: stand as much as possible, whether you're talking on the phone or watching TV. Bonus points for hopping on your treadmill or stationary bike, if you have one.

For more creative standing tips, check out this website.

Reynolds also suggests ways to improve your fitness and daily calorie burn with tiny changes to your lifestyle, like these:
  • Take a walking break instead of a coffee break.
  • Do wall push-ups while you wait for copies.
  • Program your computer to alert you to get up for a short walk every hour or so.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park a couple of blocks away from work or in the furthest parking space from your office building.

If you can't take the time to work in exercise during the workday, consider trying some of these tips. Get others involved by sending out an email that reminds your officemates to do their two-minute stand, or by encouraging others to stand while taking phone calls. It's the little positive changes we make every day that have the biggest long-term impact on our health!

Be sure to use the Fitness Tracker to tally up your workouts!

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