The simple thing we can all do to improve our health

Are you tired of hearing that “sitting is the new smoking” and that our sedentary lives are putting us all in an early grave?

Sure, many of us know this, but for many of us, particularly those who are still working, commuting or are volunteering in a desk-bound manner, there are times when we can’t avoid the need to be in one place for a prolonged period of time.

Well, new Australian research suggests the solution could be a simple as standing up for good health.

If you want to improve the levels of sugar, far and cholesterol in your blood, but aren’t able to take a walk, simply standing up rather than sitting down has been shown to have a clear improvement on health markers.

“An extra two hours per day spent standing rather than sitting was associated with approximately two per cent lower average fasting blood sugar levels and 11 percent lower average triglycerides (fats in the blood),” say the authors of the study, published in the European Heart Journal.

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Standing is also associated with higher levels of “good” cholesterol, HDL.

Replacing two hours of sitting time with actual activity in the form of “stepping” was even better — with lower blood fat and sugar scores as well as an 11 percent lower average Body Mass Index and a ten-centimetre smaller average waist circumference.

“These findings provide important preliminary evidence on the potential benefits of standing for cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers,” said the study.

“This has important public health implications given that standing is a common behaviour.”

It’s estimated that the average European adult spends between 3.2 to 6.8 hours sitting down each day, and that 55 to 69 percent of our waking hours are sedentary.

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Research into the effects of sitting has been gathering momentum, however this is one of the first studies to look at the impacts of standing rather than sitting.

To move more and sit less, the Australian Heart Foundation has these tips:

  • Get off the couch and walk around the house during commercial breaks.
  • Do household chores, such as folding clothes, washing dishes or ironing, while watching television.
  • Stand to read the morning newspaper (or Starts at 60).
  • Wash your car by hand rather than using a drive-through car wash.
  • Move around the house when checking text messages and email on your mobile phone.
  • Take breaks when sitting for a long time meetings.
  • Use the stairs.
  • Stand during phone calls.
  • Drink more water so you need to refill your glass/visit the toilet more often.
  • Get on/off public transport one stop/station earlier.

Do you find yourself sitting too often? What ideas do you have for moving more and sitting less?