Simon Says Stand Up.

Okay, you read the headline. So stand up already. Like right now. Because we don’t do something so simple as standing up enough. 

You’re probably reading this with your butt firmly planted in a chair, when your butt should actually be in the air. Here’s a few reasons why sitting too much is slowly killing us.

We’re sitting more than we ever have in history. Thanks to TV or slaving away over a steaming hot computer at our desks, we spend an average of 9.3 hours a day on our butts. That’s more than we spend sleeping. The human body was never designed to sit for long periods of time. Yet, we do.

The longer we sit, the shorter our lives. Sitting more than six hours a day makes you 40% more likely to die within 15 years than someone who’s on their feet all day. If you sit watching TV for more than three hours a day, your chances of dying from heart disease go up by 64%. Think of it this way: spending five or more hours a day on your butt is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes. You read that right.

Sitting makes you fat. It’s hard to burn calories when you’re watching TV. When you veg out, your body goes nowhere. If you’re stuffing your face with Doritos while sitting in front of the tube, it’s little wonder why you’re getting a gut. By comparison, walking burns 300-500% more calories than sitting about.

Sitting all day is trashing your body. People who work at a desk have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs. You can develop deep vein thrombosis. And your good cholesterol and insulin effectiveness can drop as much as 20% just by doing nothing. 

Don’t take this sitting down.

If you aren’t already, stand up. Set an alarm on your phone or computer if you must, but every 20-30 minutes, get up. Stretch. Walk around or walk in place. Do jumping jacks. Better yet: take a break and go for a walk. Exercise. Look into a standing desk for working and for your computer. 

A good idea during the day is to plan stand-up and walking breaks into your work routine. Plan pop-up moments into your day to grab water, coffee, have face-to-face chats on business matters with associates. Think of ways that you can get up and move around. Organize a meeting not around a conference table, but with a walk around the block. Sneak outside for five minutes and stretch. Or do so some quick calisthenics. You’ll find yourself more relaxed, energized (and less sleepy).

Have to go up or down a few floors? Take the stairs instead. In fact, climbing the stairs burns five times more calories than sitting. Dr. David Agus, professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, has a simple suggestion to make all of us cube farm slaves more healthy: “Make elevators coin operated.”


Gretchen Reynolds, who covers exercise research for the New York Times, wrote a wonderful and insightful book, “The First 20 Minutes”  that shows the benefits of standing up every 20 to 30 minutes, and how even a 20-minute daily walk can do a world of good. 

This great article at Delicious Living discusses the key points in Reynolds’ excellent book. Reynolds explains:

“By standing up, your cause the big muscles in your legs and back to contract, which leads to an increase in certain enzymes that break up fat in the blood stream. You don't have to jog in place or do jumping jacks. Just stand. A very pleasant additional benefit is that standing up every 20 to 30 minutes also seems to prompt the body to burn calories, so you don't gain as much weight from sitting at the office most of the day.

“Even in that short period of time, you start to see different genes being activated than when you're sedentary; blood flow increases to the brain, which improves thinking immediately and also sparks the birth of new brain cells in the longer term; the body's biggest muscles contract, using blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity, which reduces diabetes and heart disease risk; and you begin almost right away to slow the loss of muscle mass that we all experience with aging.”

A win-win.

I often plan my lunch break around a brisk walk. Instead of using the time to sit for lunch, I often take a protein bar or a bag of raw almonds with me and munch as I stroll. Walking clears my head, relaxes and energizes me.

Some people work at a standing desk. Wearing an activity tracking band such as the Jawbone UP, you can set reminders to stand up throughout the day. Or consider wearing a smart watch that tracks your steps, or even a smartphone like the Apple iPhone that has a built-in step tracker. When combined with apps such as Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, UA RecordLose-It!  or even the Apple Health app, you can monitor your daily movement. 

So exactly where can you stand?

You can stand up with a coat,
You can stand up in a boat,
You can stand up in the hall,
Or stand up feeling tall,
You can stand up at the store,
And stand a little more,
If you stand up on the plane,
You might feel less insane,
If you stand up from the couch,
You won't be a grouch,
You can stand and take the stairs, 
And jump up in the air,
You can stand up on your toes,
Stand and touch your nose,

And if you stand up with your friends,
The fun will never end.

Well, you get the idea. 

So take a stand. For health's sake. It’s like hitting the reset button on your body. Move. Jump. Stretch. Walk. Climb. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. And gosh darn it, standing up is just plain fun. Just remember these words:

Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!” 
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

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