Learn how to burn calories by standing more.
I hope you’re sitting down when you read this. Or maybe not. Recently, several studies have been all over the news, suggesting that sitting may in fact be A) slowly killing us and B) worse than smoking. While these catchy headlines may be partially news-selling scare tactics, there’s definitely something to it. Just look at an amazing infographic that sums things up at “Sitting Is Killing You”, read “Is Sitting A Lethal Activity?” by the New York Times, and view a Fox News Report on “How Sitting Can Be As Deadly As Smoking”.
Of course, these types of reports may only serve to get you stressed out at work while you’re strapped to your chair, grinding your teeth and sweating bullets as you wonder how much harm you’re doing to your body. And this type of stress can be just as unhealthy as sitting! So in this article, you’ll not only learn why sitting isn’t the best activity for your health, but you’ll also learn 7 ways to stand more, even if you work in an office environment.
The Dangers of Sitting
If you really think about it, discussing the dangers of sitting seems a bit silly. After all, you know intuitively that a sedentary lifestyle is less healthy than staying physically active. But it’s only recently that clear scientific evidence has emerged linking cardiovascular disease to long periods of time spent in a seated position. Early death and obesity are also strongly linked to sitting.
How could this be? Not only are people who sit a lot less likely to lead physically active lives, but sitting halts most of the electrical activity in your muscles, since you don’t really need those muscles to help you sit (believe it or not, your glutes do not become stronger by sitting on them!). When muscle activity declines, your metabolism drops, so you burn a third of the calories you would in standing position. Interestingly, the enzymes that break down fat also significantly decrease, as does the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. Finally, compared to standing, sitting can place up to 10 times more painful pressure on your low back.
Are you standing yet?
How To Stand More
Fear not. You’ll find 7 Quick & Dirty Tips below to help you stand more. And many of these can be used even if you’re shackled to a chair for your day job!
1. Stand When You’re Waiting
I often get funny looks at the DMV, doctor’s office, and computer store when I’m told to “take a seat” and I simply stand in the corner of the room. If you think about it, there’s no real reason to sit, since you can read magazines, surf on your phone, or listen to music while you’re standing – and your wait time doesn’t get any shorter by sitting.
2. Stand When You’re At The Gym
This may seem counterintuitive. Isn’t the gym a place for exercise? It certainly is, but if you happen to have a job in which you sit most of the day, you should be avoiding exercises that put you into a seated position. I recommend choosing free weights and treadmills over seated weight training machines and bicycles. This is especially true if you have low back pain – the less you sit, the better!
3. Stand When You’re Working
Even if you can’t always stand at the office, you can at home. There’s no reason why shuffling bills, surfing on your computer, or performing any other desk activity can’t be adjusted to a standing workstation. In the article “How To Turn Your Workstation Into A Calorie-Decimating Standing Desk or Treadmill Workstation”, I teach you how to make a standing desk and even create a treadmill workstation. I have clients who slowly walk several miles each day while working, and I personally do almost 90% of my writing in the standing position.
4. Watch TV While You’re Standing or Exercising
Let’s face it – we all have those TV episodes we just can’t miss. For me, it’s “Modern Family” and “The Office”. But in most cases, I simply watch them on my phone while I’m pedaling an indoors bicycle or jogging on a treadmill. You can even set up a TV in your home gym.
5. Stand When You’re Traveling
When I’m on an airplane, I’ll often read, listen to music, and watch programs on my phone while standing in the back. While you certainly don’t want to get banned from air travel by ignoring the seat belt signs, there are plenty of standing opportunities on longer flights. Similarly, while on road trips, stop every 1-2 hours to do jumping jacks, body weight squats, or a quick series of stretches.
6. Stand When You’re Snacking
You’re prone to eat less and metabolize calories more quickly when you eat in the standing position. While a turkey dinner may be more comfortable while seated, there’s no reason not to eat a sandwich or munch down on trail mix in a standing position.
7. Stand While Talking On The Phone
Often, you’ll see that the first thing people do when they answer a phone is to find the nearest chair. Instead, when you talk on the phone, try to stand up, pace the room, or even stretch. A handsfree headset might make this even easier, plus if you’re on a cell phone, you’ll avoid all those potentially cancer-causing radio waves.
Perhaps you’re seeing the same pattern I’m seeing here. Much of the time, we sit because we are socially expected to sit, and not because it’s necessary for the activity in which we’re engaging. From now on, think about times when you would normally sit even though sitting isn’t necessary, and simply stand instead!
If you've found creative ways to stand, please share them below in Comments and on the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page!