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Is Standing Better Than Sitting?

  By Aloka Mehta Gambhir  posted Nov 10th 2011 at 6:30AM IN | Avg Rating
Diet & Fitness

Many us us spend most of our waking life, sitting. We wake up, sit down to eat breakfast, sit down in our cars, get to work, sit continuously for 9 hours, sit in our cars, come home, get one hour of a workout in if we’re lucky, sit for dinner, sit in front of the tv, and then go to bed. The way we approach sitting is harmful to our health. The occasional dalliance with a straight-backed office chair probably isn’t a problem, but when we spend most of our waking life sitting (or, even worse, slumping over) in a chair, we invite disaster. Such sedentary living is a real problem. Here are some studies that have researched the health hazards of spending too much time sitting.

  • A New Zealand study found that workers who spent an inordinate amount of time sitting at their desks were at a higher risk of developing deep vein thombrosis (DVT). Workers who used computers while sitting were at an even high risk.
  • Metabolic syndrome may also be exacerbated by 'too little exercise and too much sitting'.
  • An NY Times article reported the harmful effects of sitting in the unnatural postures that we employ.

Acutely, sitting weakens our muscles, especially in the legs and the hips. When you sit, your glutes are totally inactive. They aren’t being used. They’re stretched out. It’s just one big static stretch, all day long, which weakens them. Strong, engaged glutes are required for effective, natural movement. Running, walking, lifting weights – if you’re doing any of this with weak, inactive glutes from excessive sitting, you’re an injury waiting to happen. 

While you can try to make sure you spend your time outside of the office being active, walking more, using the stairs, or not being a couch potato as far as possible, what can you do about it at work?

Standing workstations make an entrance in the US. Many people are opting to have their desks at standing levels so that they can work while standing. Try propping some books under your laptop when you get tired of all that sitting.

Other than working while standing (or standing on one foot while you rest the other) there are several things that a sedentary worker can do to get more activity into his or her day. Employ simple solutions like fetching your own water, walking over to a co-worker's desk rather than emailing or calling, and using the office building's staircase for brief bouts of activity to counter the ill-effects of sitting for long stretches of time.

Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images 

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