How to Undo the Effects of Sitting All Day
July 22, 2016
ou’ve heard that prolonged sitting is a major fitness no-no, but new research reveals that you don’t need to get a standing desk to stay healthy…
We’ve all ready the studies claiming that sitting is seriously unhealthy, making us more prone to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.
As a result, there’s been a scramble for standing desks, but what if staying on your feet at work all day isn’t a possibility – or even a preference? After all not, everyone wants to rise to every occasion at the office.
As it turns out, there might be an even better way to sidestep the harmful effects of sitting. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center found that standing at work isn’t the cure-all scientists suspected it was. In the study, researchers took 74 people in their mid-twenties and divided them into four groups:
• One group sat and typed for 15 minutes, then stood for 15 minutes
• Another group sat for 15 minutes just watching TV before hopping on a treadmill at a walking pace
• A third group stood for 15 minutes, then sat down for 15
• The final group walked on the treadmill for 15 minutes before sitting for 15 minutes
As the groups performed each activity, researchers monitored the number of calories each subject was burning during each sequence.
The results? Standing burned just two additional calories on average over sitting per 15-minute interval, according to the study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Bummer. But there were a few bright spots: Walking even for short periods burned three times as many calories as standing.
So, what does this mean for us all, whether we’re sitting or standing at work? Dr. Andrew Farber, an orthopedic surgeon and SOUL rockstar, shared some ways to stay healthy at work.
Be honest: Should we be concerned about sitting so much at work?
We should be concerned about sitting so much in general. Sitting for long periods of time, whether at work, in your car or even in an airplane, is unhealthy.
Our bodies are designed to move regularly. Extended periods of immobility or inactivity not only causes a slow down in our metabolism, but also increases strain on our cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. Movement of our muscles is essential for circulation and when we don’t move, our heart has to work harder to move blood through our bodies. This can result in problems such as higher blood pressure and swelling of the legs, to name a few.
Uh-oh. What else?
Chronic back pain, eye strain and repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome are also found more often in patients who report low activity levels and long periods of immobility throughout their days.
Are there benefits to standing at work over sitting?
There are benefits to moving throughout the day. While the standing desk and other such inventions were initially thought to be the magic cure to our sitting aliments, we’ve since learned that standing at your desk all day is not necessarily healthy as well. Employees with standing jobs such as factory workers and retail clerks for example suffer from many of the same immobility problems as their sitting counterparts. The key is to move regularly.
In an ideal world, how often should we be getting up and moving around at the office?
There’s no clear consensus regarding the exact amount of motion needed to maintain good health. Some studies recommend as little as five minutes of movement per hour while others insist 15 minutes are needed. It seems five to 10 minutes each hour is reasonable and does not have to be done all at once. Stand up and stretch, move your trash bin to the other side of your office or workstation, take a walk outside for some fresh air and the movement begins to add up. Small changes are easier to implement and are more likely to be continued long-term. The bottom line is whether we sit or stand for work, just about all of us can benefit from moving more.
Got it. So we’ll be making our next meeting a walking one.
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The information presented is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis or recommended treatments. Please take an individual approach and consult your physician on which lifestyle choice is best for you.