Many of us have read the stories about sitting being as deadly as smoking. It gets our attention, but it is an overstatement, pure and simple. Smoking is generally considered far more dangerous than a sedentary lifestyle, though both can contribute to serious health issues.
According to the World Health Organization, smoking kills more than 8 million people per year globally. On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle, often involving prolonged sitting, can contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more. The World Health Organization has named physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally per year. Sitting causes less than half the number of deaths even though there are many more sedentary people than there are smokers.
Now that we’ve debunked that myth, let’s switch perspectives and discuss why standing every hour is an amazing way to reduce the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. If you have a desk job, you are considered sedentary, even if you go to the gym regularly. There are obviously tons of benefits to regular workouts, but they don’t really mitigate the risks of prolonged sitting. However, making sure you stand for several minutes every hour has been proven to have some extraordinary benefits, especially considering the minimal effort involved.
Want some motivation to develop a standing habit? Look what standing once an hour for five minutes can do for you:
• Weight loss. Standing burns more calories than sitting, so standing for short periods of time throughout the day can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
• Improved posture. Standing helps to strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture.
• Reduced risk of heart disease. Standing helps to improve circulation and reduce blood pressure, which can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
• Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Standing helps to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
• Reduced risk of cancer. Standing helps to reduce inflammation, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.
• Reduced back pain. Standing can help to reduce back pain by taking pressure off of your spine.
• Reduced risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in your body. Standing helps to prevent DVT by keeping your blood flowing.
• Improved mood. Standing helps to improve circulation and reduce stress, which can help to improve your mood.
• Increased energy levels. Standing helps to improve circulation and metabolism, which can help to increase your energy levels.
When you work at a desk, it is hard to get into the habit of standing up every hour. But it isn’t impossible, and standing is a habit worth fighting for. If you make an effort for a couple of weeks, standing every hour will become a part of your daily routine. Here are some tips for getting started.
• Set a timer. Set a timer for every hour to remind yourself to stand up. Apple watches and many fitness trackers can be set to remind you as well.
• Make it fun. Listen to music or a compelling book/podcast when you stand, you’ll find yourself looking forward to it each hour.
• Try a standing desk. If you’re serious about creating a standing habit, you might want to try a standing desk. They come in a variety of sizes and prices. Most will allow you to quickly switch between sitting and standing.
• Track your progress. Keep track of how often you stand each day and see how well you progress over time.
Finally, don’t worry about lost work time during your standing breaks. In the end you are likely to become more productive. Studies have shown that people who stand for short periods of time throughout the day get more done than those who sit all day. That’s something worth a standing ovation.