Understanding the Benefits of Standing Throughout the Day
Benefits of Standing Throughout the Day
One of the worst things about prolonged sitting is that we forget to stand up and move. 50-70% of our days are spent sitting down at school and work. When we sit for hours at a stretch, our heart rate and metabolism slow down. Our joints and muscles become stiff from disuse. Our muscles start to burn less fat, and the fatty acids in our blood slow down and clog our arteries. Eventually, prolonged sitting can lead to higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and even an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. So how do we break the habit of constant sitting?
The Simple Answer is to Stand Up!
There are many benefits of standing more throughout the day, including it works all of our muscles, joints, and bones in concert. Standing also immediately increases our heart rate and the flow of oxygenated blood throughout our body. In fact, the Sitting-Rising Test is an easy way to predict your mortality risk. Start from a standing position, then lower yourself to the floor in a seated position, and then rise back up. The more you have to support yourself with your hands or knees along the way, the more likely you are to die in the next few years.
Standing All Day is not the Answer Either
The most beneficial thing we can do for our bodies is to increase our movement. One way to do this is by sitting on an adjustable stool or on an exercise ball rather than a regular chair. This causes us to constantly make micro-movements in the muscles around our feet, knees, and hips. In addition, our stomach, abs, and upper body muscles work to keep our torso and back engaged.
Of course, our days are filled with large chunks of time where moving or standing may or may not be optional. For example, standing is not an option while driving, attending a meeting, or sitting in class. But it is definitely an option when working, eating, watching TV, or talking on the phone. The key is to find more ways to incorporate standing and moving at work and at school.
Changing Our Surroundings
One way to do this is to shift our work environment and embrace the use of standing desks. With a standing desk, our upper body is constantly engaged and active. Our lower body is also working to maintain our balance and our shifting movements. We can breathe more deeply, and we can avoid the slouching posture that develops from sitting. We're also able to focus on our work better as our minds receive a fresh supply of oxygenated blood.
Standing desks, in particular, are a great way to block unwanted behavior. By removing the chair from the vicinity of your standing desk, you remove the temptation to sit. If you return from a long lunch and immediately collapse into a chair, you'll be snoozing in minutes. But with a standing desk, you've blocked this unwanted behavior and created a new, healthier habit of standing and moving.
It's not too late to make changes in your life that will bring you to a healthier place. The benefits of standing and moving are just too important to ignore.