Yes, it is true.
Is it a meme?
This isn’t just a meme (an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture) or a passing fad. According to a BBC News Magazine article, “a recent survey found that many of us spend up to 12 hours a day sitting on their bottoms looking at computers or watching television. If you throw in the seven hours we spend sleeping than that adds up to a remarkable 19 hours a day being sedentary.” As it turns out, we are the most sendentary humans in history due to our fabulous technology: computers, televisions, and cars.
The experiment of standing
Next, the same BBC article asked 10 people (which is a small sample but a representative number nonetheless) to stand for 3-4 hours a day versus sitting their normal 8-9 hours a day. They cite evidence for standing up with precedent: a study published in the Lancet in the 1950’s showed that bus conductors who stood versus bus drivers who sat had around half the risk of developing heart disease.
Cut heart disease risk by half? That is pretty significant!
In this case, when the volunteers stood, their blood glucose levels fell back to normal levels more quickly after a meal. They also found that by standing they were burning more calories when they looked at heart rates. The researcher Dr. John Buckley explains, “If we look at the heart rates we can see they are quite a lot higher actually – on average around 10 beats per minute higher and that makes a difference of about .7 of a calorie per minute.”
That doesn’t sound like much?
It adds up to about 50 cal an hour! If you stand for three hours a day for five days, that’s around 750 cal burned. Over the course of the year it would add up to about 30,000 extra calories, or around 8 pounds of fat. That also happens to be the caloric equivalent of running about 10 marathons ….just by standing for three or four hours a day at work.
How about that! Stand up- its easy!
Sitting is the new smoking….
Runner’s World ran an July 2013 article about this phenomenon. Smug daily exercisers were essentially saying that this didn’t apply to them…because after all, they workout! Daily! PhD candidate Travis Saunders was quoted, saying, “A consistent body of emerging research suggests it is entirely possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary, and that sitting increases your risk of death and disease, even if you’re getting plenty of physical activity. It’s a bit like smoking. Smoking is bad for you even if you get lots of exercise. So is sitting too much.”
What then are some ideas to get you out of your chair? Or, if you have to sit, what can you do to wiggle while you work?
Alternatives to sitting
- How about a Steelcase Walkstation? The gold standard of the treadmill desks goes no faster than 2 mph. You don’t actually break a sweat, but are moving constantly. I used this concept recently when studying for a test. I was teased endlessly for “not really getting exercise” by passers-by, but after explaining the concept, the teasing stopped. 🙂
- The Trekdesk fits over the treadmill you already have.
- You could sit on a really cool Technogym Wellness ball, which requires more work done by the body –the company calls them “micro movements”- like my boss Talitha. The company calls it “active sitting” and comes with a QR code emblazoned on the cover (by her left hand). This code gives you the Technogym Trainer app to customize your own training program.
- How about using a traditional weight training machine in a non- traditional way?
- Perhaps you have dumbbells sitting around. Try this simple technique: lift up your feet!
- Walk at lunch, walk instead of sending an email, walk the stairs, talk on the phone standing up, or set an alarm to stand up. Move!
- Get a tracking device to see how you match up to the national average. Remember the movie documentary Supersize Me? He limited himself to 3,000 steps a day which was what the average American did at that point. Your goal: 10,000 steps a day, at a minimum.
- Look at what this brilliant teacher did for her wiggly students: she wrote a grant for these sitting bikes and purchased several for her classroom.
- When she ran out of grant money, she took old discarded bicycle inner tubes and lashed them to the front legs of chairs…so if you couldn’t peddle away, you could kick your heel back and hit some resistance.
Brilliant! All methods of allowing movement while sitting! All the while allowing students to thrive under sitting conditions at school, which isn’t good for anybody.
Tell me how you combat extended periods of time in one position by leaving comments!