Take a Stand and Live Longer: Why Sitting Too Much Could Be Life Threatening

15 09 2013

I wanted to start off this article by saying that I wrote this entire piece while standing, but I couldn’t find a countertop that was high enough for my keyboard to reach my fingers. Therefore, to make my point, I will state that this is a great example of how many people in the world are forced to be confined in a seat for most of their day. Despite a recent surge of articles, news broadcasts, and studies over the past few years, people are still sitting more than ever, and as a result, putting their health at risk, and we’re not just talking about obesity.

We are aware that sitting can lead to obesity and cardiovascular problems due to not enough physical activity. Research has also shown a link between prolonged sitting and depression. The research that should get everyone standing up while reading this piece has been in numerous media outlets that have reported on the health problem of too much sitting; NPR, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, CBS,  Runner’s World, and Time. It is clear that being on your rump all day can actually be life threatening. According to a 2012 research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that those who spent each day sitting for longer than 11 hours were 40% more likely to die earlier than those who sat less the 4 hours a day. The kicker is that even that hour to the gym seven days a week doesn’t cut it. People just need to get up and move more often.

Many people in today’s technology driven world are behind desks tapping away at a keyboard for 8 to 10 hours a day. When we’re not sitting behind our desk, we’re probably still sitting, but this time it’s in a restaurant, car, couch, or even a bathroom stall. NPR posted a clip with advice on Beating the Cubicle. The take home message is to take a stand, not a seat. Stand up, move more, and free yourself from the dangers of begin glued to the chair. As mentioned before, even those who exercise on a regular basis still need to be more physically active in their daily life. A way to do this is to use a watch instead of a pedometer. Counting the number of steps is great if your goal is to take a certain number of steps in 4 hours. However, we don’t do this because we don’t have 4 hours to allocate all at one once to standing. A good recommendation is to wear a watch that has a stop watch. When you stand up, press the start button and stop it when you sit back down. Don’t reset the watch, but let it continue counting by pressing the start button when you stand again and repeat the process. At the end of the day record the time that you spend standing. You’ll be surprised at how little it may add up and even more shocked when we take that number and subtract it by 24 to see how many hours we actually are sitting/lying down.

I’m not telling anyone that they should start buying treadmill desks, or sleep standing up (Did you know that there is not a Guinness World Record holder for someone standing the longest. However, Suresh Joachim holds the Guinness World Record for standing on one leg. His record is 76 hours and 40 minutes.)  We all need to sit once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing and kicking up your feet at the end of a long day. The trouble begins when we find ourselves picking up a remote and for the next 4 hours of football, we’re stuck to the couch. Find those little pockets of time to stand and move. I have heard people say that they don’t sleep because they have time for that when they die. I think the same goes for standing. Stand and move now while you still have the chance.

My brother on Mt. Adams

My brother on Mt. Adams, NH


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