Take a stand

We sit too much.

Image result for comfy chair drawingDrawing courtesy channel4learning.com

And it’s become a health issue – a really serious one.

If you were a child from my era, you raced out the door post-breakfast on a weekend or summer morning and didn’t return home until you heard your mother’s holler for lunch. And likewise until dinner. Sitting inside was not an option. And well, let’s face it, computers were a thing of the future. Television was a treat and simply didn’t factor big in our lives. The excitement was outdoors – creating fun with the local yokels. Rainy day? We played games and romped about in the rec room. We barely stayed still.

Fast forward to adulthood and working in an office in my early career days. Yes, we sat. But honestly, things were different back then. We weren’t glued to computers and smart phones from the moment the alarm sounded until bedtime. We were more apt to take a stroll during the evening.  We talked to the neighbours.

Life was a lot less about hunching over a hand-held device.

And now. 2015.

It’s been dubbed ‘the sitting disease.’ And research is piling up regarding the long-term effects of extended sitting. Like a hugely increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, for example. Sitting for lengthy periods is an independent risk factor for poor health and premature death.

The folks at the Mayo Clinic are actually dubbing the act of prolonged/too much sitting as the new smoking. What? To add insult to injury, scientists have discovered that regardless of a regular exercise regimen, if you sit uninterruptedly for a great percentage of your day, you are still at risk of dying prematurely.

This is…bad news.

And why are we finding this out now? It’s simple. We have become a remarkably sedentary society and doctors are concerned about health complications that are exacerbated by our movement-deprived lives. We sit at the office, we nestle into the couch for television, we sit when we play video games, and we spend hours each week in the car navigating the commute to work.

Enough already. What should we do about our worrisome ‘smoking’ habit?

It’s really not that difficult. Simply standing on and off throughout the day is a powerful antidote to long periods of sitting. In fact, studies show that standing up 35+ times a day will take us far off the danger grid. Just a couple of minutes each time. And move a little while you’re up. Take calls while standing – and pace around the room!

Bring the notion of taking standing breaks into your workplace. More and more organizations are focused on developing a workplace culture that embraces employee health. That’s terrific! Encouraging standing during meetings, taking activity breaks, and introducing stand-up desks are some of the ways to address the extended-sitting problem.

Check out my adapted stand-up desk. I use it daily.

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Start today. Take a stand!