StatsCan found that adults spent an average of 9.5 hours a day, approximately 69 percent of their waking hours, in sedentary activities. Add the time you sleep and the majority of your life is spent with little physical movement and a low expenditure of energy.
Sedentary lifestyles contribute to epidemic levels of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular problems and even back pain. Those who sit all day long live an average of two years less than those who are more active. Even regular exercise doesn’t seem to completely offset the effects of sitting all day.
So how could standing more help? Well, for one thing it provides greater feedback neurologically from your body to your brain, provided you have good posture and a healthy nervous system to control the electrical messages. Increased neuron activity in the brain such as from upright activities can enhance balance, memory, concentration, sleep and improve control of your body’s organs and systems. Standing will also help you burn twice as many calories than with sitting, improve your circulation, and thus also help prevent numerous vascular disorders linked to sitting for prolonged periods of time.
Forward-thinking companies interested in improving productivity are installing “standing desks” for those who ask for them and instituting required “stand up and walk around” breaks every hour. If this is not an option consider taking a brisk 10-minute walk at lunch, parking your car a bit further from the front doors or even taking public transit instead of driving.
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published the results of the 45 and Up Study that examined 194,545 participants. It found that prolonged sitting reduced muscle contractions and shut off the activity of lipoprotein lipase, which helps to turn fat into energy. As a result, there was more obesity in the inactive group and they died earlier than their counterparts who sat fewer hours per day. Women in the study who spent more than 11 hours per day sitting had a 12% increase in all-cause premature mortality, and the sedentary group also had increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and cancer. Men in the study who spent more than five hours a day outside of work sitting were 34% more likely to develop heart failure than those who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised.
So no matter how you choose to do it, stand more while you work, get regular spinal health exams to help identify your baseline neurological level of health and engage in more upright activities while avoiding sitting as much as possible. To greater health and longevity!