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Why Standing is Great Exercise

September 10, 2015

Every hour, my Apple watch buzzes. Why? The watch is alerting me to stand up if I have been sitting too long. This got me thinking – is standing that important that it’s a prime alert on the smart watch?

The average American spends 7.7 hours each day sitting, but new research indicates that the best thing most people can do for their health is to and stand up.

A study published in the European Heart Journal showed that standing more could improve cholesterol, blood sugar and reduce fat levels in your blood. The study involved nearly 800 people who wore activity monitors that tracked how long they slept, sat, lied down, stood up, walked or ran over seven days. They found standing an extra two hours a day over sitting lowered blood sugar levels by 2% and blood fats by 11%. It also increased the amount of HDL, or “good”, cholesterol in the bloodstream, all of which is beneficial for heart health.

The study went one step further and looked at what would happen is walking or running replaced sitting. They found stepping (as the researchers referred to these activities) over sitting for 2 hours a day lowered BMI by 11%, reduced participants’ waistlines, lowered blood sugar by 11% and blood fats by 14%.

Obviously, we all know the positive effects walking and running have on overall health, but what makes this study so interesting is its emphasis on the benefits of standing, which requires far less energy than going for a 2-mile run or 4-mile walk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity every week, such as power walking. But this new research suggests that standing may be an effective form of exercise to add to this mix.

Why is standing good for you? Researchers think it’s because standing exercises muscles in your abdomen, butt and legs that are necessary to keep you upright for an extended period. Working out muscles helps to control blood sugar and blood fat levels, which can lower cholesterol. This can lead to a lower risk for diabetes and heart disease, researchers said.

We already know that It increases your risk of several chronic conditions and causes you to burn 50 fewer calories per hour compared to when you stand. So, how do you incorporate more standing into your day and avoid back pain? Experts suggest sitting 20 minutes for every 30 minutes of work. After 20 minutes, you should get up and stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes. This equates to standing and sitting 32 times in an average work day.

I know this seems easier said than done, but there are a few simple ways you can integrate more standing into your work day:

  •   Use a standing desk: Standing desks improve circulation and may help you burn an
  •   Multitask: If you spend most of your work day on conference calls, get an earpiece that you can plug into your work cell or wireless headset that you can use to walk and talk at the same time.
  •   Sneak in exercise: If you know you’ll be sitting at a desk most of the day, incorporate exercise wherever and whenever you can. This could include taking the stairs rather than the elevator, parking farther away so you need to walk a few extra steps each day or using part of your lunch break to go for a 5 or 10-minute walk around the block.
  •   Reduce TV time: Most of us spend way too much time watching TV. Reducing TV time in favor of less sedentary activities will improve your overall fitness.
  •   Track your activity: There are plenty of wearable devices on the market that let you track how many steps you take every day. Some of these products provide an online community where you can connect with other people who are trying to stay active. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable and make sure you hit the recommended goal of 10,000 steps a day.
All these small changes will get you more active. Whether it’s standing, walking or running, the less you sit, the better it is for your health. So, get moving.

For more information and health tips, follow Dr. Brahmbhatt on Twitter and Facebook.

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