If your work requires for you to spend a considerable amount of time sitting down, I hope you invest the next three minutes reading this post — it can literally add years and quality to your life.
The statistics that are being published about the perils of sitting for too long are frankly, quite scary. You may want to stand up for this…
– Sitting 6+ hours per day makes you up to 40% likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than 3. Even if you exercise.
– Sitting makes you gain weight. As soon as you sit down, your calorie burning drops to 1 per minute and the enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90%
– The World Health Organisation has identified physical inactivity as the fourth biggest killer on the planet, ahead of obesity.
The human body simply isn’t built to sit for long periods of time. Ever since we evolved from archaic homo sapiens to anatomically evolved modern humans more than 150,000 years ago, we were meant to be active, to spend time outdoors walking and running. Sitting for extended periods of time whether at work and/or during our commute is something mother nature hasn’t prepared us for.
When you remain inactive (or sitting down) for long periods of time, the muscles in your back are affected, particularly the erector spinae muscles which run parallel to your spine. Not maintaining proper posture whilst sitting can seriously damage your spine structure and even cause permanent problems such as back pain.
Evidence of the health benefits of standing up compared to sitting down goes back to the 1950’s when a study by one of the world’s oldest and best known peer-reviewed British general medical journal “The Lancet” compared bus conductors (who stand) with bus drivers (who don’t). The study revealed that bus conductors had around half the risk of developing heart disease of the bus drivers.
Standing is like walking: It increases energy, burns extra calories, tones muscles, ramps up your metabolism, increases blood flow and improves your posture along the way.
1.- Sit smarter. When sitting on a chair, make sure you sit back and move your chair close to the desk to maintain proper contact between your back and the seat back to help support and maintain the natural inward curve of your lumbar spine. So remember to always sit up straight without hunching over and use ergonomic chairs or furniture when possible.
2.- Try sitting on a stability ball. Also known as Pilates balls, the use of a stability ball (a big, round piece of exercise equipment used for strength training) to replace regular chairs is becoming increasingly popular. The key here is to alternate between the ball and an ergonomically designed chair since you need every so often to reduce disc pressure in your back.
3.- Get a sit-stand desktop. There are now plenty of products in the market which allow you to easily convert a tabletop into a height-adjustable standing desk. This option allows you to sit or stand to work at anytime.
4.-Don’t eat at your desk.– Having lunch at your desk will unnecessarily prolong the time you remain sitting down. Your brain needs this time of the day to physically recharge anyway and eating at your desk means this much needed rest will not happen given that your mind will most likely be actively engaged doing work, reading the news, etc. Your performance, memory, concentration and most of your brain’s executive functions will be affected if you don’t disconnect from work for a little while, so do your lower back and brain a favour and have a mindful lunch somewhere else.
5.- Give walking or standing meetings a try. Since alternating between sitting, standing and walking is the best you can do for your body-mind, then use meetings as an opportunity to get up to either stand or walk. The benefits of walking meetings are numerous : Your attention span will expand, your energy levels will go up, your creative juices will flow freely and you’ll even get the extra benefit of burning more calories. I take most of my calls standing up and my conversations benefit from this without a shadow of a doubt.
And perhaps the most compelling argument of this post to get you to stand more: Data published by BuzzFeed showed that selfies taken while standing get more “Likes” than those taken while sitting!
Originally published at cesargamio.com on March 1, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com