The simple thing we can all do to improve our health 30



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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.

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.

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? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Great advice so long as you don’t have wonky knees or hips or suffer from arthritis or osteoporosis or have spinal problems. There are many reasons why people sit for hours on end.

    1 REPLY
    • And varicose veins. I was painting a series of murals for the village here in France and, in having to stand for hours on end painting them, the varicose veins I had in my lower right leg crept up to my thigh. My French companion, Pierrot, had varicose veins developing in his legs from being on his feet all day (yes, sitting too) but ever since taking an hour’s siesta after lunch each day, even if he only sleeps for twenty minutes of that time, they reduced considerably. So standing, like stting, has its drawbacks.

  2. This is rot. I had a job where I had to stand for about four hours and the only way I could lose body fat was through exercising.

    1 REPLY
  3. Great idea but very hard to work at a computer standing, then if I stand for too long or walk for too long the arthritis in my spine makes my back seize and I can’t move at all! I give up.

  4. No wonder the Queen appears to be in such good health. She did her school work standing up as a teenager in preparation for her future duties as Queen. Seems to have stood her in good stead (pardon the pun).

  5. I find it impossible to stand for any lengh of time (supermarket queue is enough) but constant gentle movement ok movement, I can’t see the benefits of standing stationary for 4 hours doing much more than spinal compression, little and often in all things ( now I just need will power on the chokkies)

  6. Standing in one spot causes blood to,pool in the legs. We’ve all seen pictures of soldiers fainting on guard duty after standing for hours.

  7. Was driven home to me after spinal fracture. Sitting for long periods is my enemy. Just get up and move often. Standing all day as a hairdresser for 40 yrs made this quite natural for me. However, it doesn’t make ANY difference to weight etc. sadly need to eat lots less for this!

  8. I am waiting a knee operation, but find walking is fine, standing is horrid I can not stand it.(pardon the pun)

  9. I agree. I used to be in a very sedentary job, but since retiring and having had my knee operation, I am far more active, walking every day, and my cholesterol and sugar readings have all improved, not to mention my blood pressure medication has been dropped down. I also, for the most part, watch my diet as well, which I am sure all helps.

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