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Is Sitting the New Smoking? It's Time to Take a Stand!
By Carol LeBeau
11/1/2011 2:53:02 PM


Have you heard? When it comes to your health, sitting may be the new smoking! While the analogy may seem far-fetched, many scientists and medical experts are convinced prolonged sitting is bad for your health.

Perhaps we should know this intuitively. After a long road trip or plane flight, doesn’t it feel good to get up and stretch? Now there’s solid science that proves it’s more than a feeling. A leading science and sports association recently released the results of a study that found time spent on our backsides is linked to higher rates of death and disease.

Think about it. Even if we carve out time for exercise and leisure time activities, we still sit for long stretches working at a desk, sitting in class, riding in a car, working at a computer, watching TV or playing video games. Sadly, all that fanny time may be killing us.

Long bouts on our bums can cause serious physiological responses related to chronic disease and a shortened life span. The University of Queensland found that people who stood up frequently had lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker for blood fat). They also had smaller waistlines. And, in a crucial finding, it was the frequency of standing, not the duration, that counted.

One study found that a woman’s risk of developing metabolic syndrome increased 26% for every extra hour of sitting. Long periods of sitting in an upright position can also strain your back, causing chronic pain. Blood clots are another risk of being inactive.

Standing more often throughout the day can improve circulation, muscle tone and vitality. It can also help keep blood flowing freely to your head, and that’s good for keeping your brain sharp.

Bottom line … too much bottom time is bad for your health. More and more studies are coming to the same conclusion: when you sit, your body pretty much stops working. So consider spending more of your day upright:

  • Take more short breaks to stand and stretch (or walk). How ‘bout setting a timer?
  • Hold meetings standing up. (You’ll save lots of time on this one!)
  • Stand up when talking on the phone. (This really works for me and studies show you’ll be perceived as having a better attitude to boot!).
  • Consider a standing desk, or just raise your old one.
  • Set up your office so things aren’t within arm’s reach.
  • Read standing up. Studies show you’ll actually remember more!

Want more motivation? Standing for just two hours during an average workday can burn an extra 280 calories.

Folks, we have to intentionally move. Our daily activities no longer require it. So, bottoms up! Let’s all get up off our duffs. (If you’ll please excuse me, I have to return a phone call. I think I’ll do it standing up!)

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.



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