Get up and move every 20 minutes

But don't sit too long!
But don’t sit too long!

By Janet Cranston

If you are sitting down to read this article, stand up and read it instead. New research suggests that even regular exercisers may not be doing enough to counteract the health hazards of sitting for too much of the day.

Sitting for long periods of time – when you don’t stand up, don’t move at all – tends to cause changes physiologically within your muscles. You stop breaking up fat in your bloodstream, you start getting accumulations of fat in your liver, your heart and your brain. You get sleepy. You gain weight. You basically are much less healthy than if you were moving.

Stand up for two minutes every 20 minutes while desk bound or sitting elsewhere. Simple but this comes with profound benefits! If you can stand every 20-minutes – even if you do nothing else – you change how your body responds physiologically.

Studies have shown that frequent standing breaks significantly decrease your chances of getting diabetes. If you can also walk around your home or office, you get even more benefits. You will lose weight, you lessen your chance of heart disease and you will improve your brain. But if you can do nothing else, stand up!

Here are some suggestions:

• Stand up every time you answer the phone.
• Buy a music stand and read standing up.
• Walk around the house or down the hall at work once an hour.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Hold standing meetings – it’s good for you and may keep the meetings shorter.
• Stand up during every TV commercial.
• Stand up while surfing the Internet or on social media.
• Stand while waiting for your plane instead of sitting.
• Wash the dishes instead of putting them in the dishwasher.
• Find the furthest parking spot from the door and take a longer walk from the store.

All these activities are enough to break up the physiological changes that sitting otherwise causes.

Janet Cranston is director of support services at Reh-Fit Centre.

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