A Vanderbilt University study estimated that Americans spend about 55 percent of waking time sitting. That’s about seven and a half hours in a chair every day. A growing body of research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and obesity. The muscle activity needed for standing, stretching and other movements seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes are put on hold. When you’re standing or actively moving, the processes speed up.
Standing a little more each day will tone your muscles, improve posture, increase blood flow and burn calories. Check out these practical, doable and even fun ways to stand more and move more throughout your workday:
- As a first step, set your PDA to beep you into action once every 60 to 90 minutes.
- Stand up and shadowbox for a full minute. Or rip off a minute’s worth of jumping jacks. Or run in place like you’re at NFL training camp.
- If there’s enough floor space in your office or cubicle, jump rope for a minute or two. If space is limited or you’ve forgotten your jump rope, simply pretend you’re jumping rope.
- Do walking lunges in a vacant conference room or empty hallway. Make it fun and channel John Cleese and the Monty Python troupe doing “Silly Walks.”
- Practice a tai chi mindfulness movement, like the “walking on a frozen lake” exercise. (YouTube is a convenient instructor.)
- Take to the stairs — two at a time if you need a harder workout! Use the washroom on a higher floor; refill your coffee cup on a lower floor.
- While your computer is checking for software updates, do one-legged squats (hold onto a wall or table for support).
- Desk pushups can be a good strengthener. Stand and put your hands on the desk. Walk backward two or three steps, and then do push-ups against the desk.
- If you work at a desk all day long, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table. (There’s more on this important subject on page 2.)
One last thing: Don’t let fear of embarrassment keep you from standing up and exercising at work. Chances are, your co-workers will admire your efforts. You might even get them to join you!