As a nation we are firmly planted on a chair for an average of 12 hours a day, don’t forget the time we spend asleep, that’s a total of 20 hours of inactivity. Since it seems the nation is largely inhabited by sloths; medics and researchers are keen to find new ways to get people on their feet. And, according to new research, being more active could not be easier.
A team from Chester University found simply standing for a few hours each day is far more beneficial to our health than sitting on our backsides. Dr John Buckley and the university team simply asked 10 estate agents to stand for 3 hours a day during their working week and then checked the effect it had them.
The participants wore movement, heart and glucose level monitors throughout the experiment. This is because being sedentary for long periods of time effects the way our body breaks down food into glucose for energy. The pancreas makes insulin to control our glucose levels but the process is affected by how active we are. Constantly experiencing high glucose levels raises your risk of diabetes and heart disease. In fact sitting all day increases your risk of heart disease by 54% and decreases your life expectancy by 2 years.
The researcher’s data revealed that blood glucose levels returned to normal after a meal far quicker when the participant stood (compared to when they spent the day sitting). Additionally the heart rate monitors indicated that when standing their bodies were using up more calories, 0.83 of calories per minute to be exact.
Though 0.83 sounds a tiny figure it soon becomes significant. It means by just standing for 3 hours a day you are burning 50 calories an hour, 750 a week and more than 30,000 a year, “the equivalent of running about 10 marathons” says Dr Buckley.
But, if like us, you find yourself stuck sitting behind a desk for hours on end, there is evidence that simply moving a little throughout your day can aid your health. Try going for a wander whilst you’re on the phone, take a tea break to stretch your legs and use your legs rather than email to ask a colleague a question.
Still think standing at work isn’t practical? Think again. Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway and Leonardo Da Vinci all believed in standing, even the folk at Google get their creativity flowing by standing up.