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“Get off Your Butt, but Don’t Just Stand There”

Sep 3, 2018 | Movement | 0 comments

“People who sit all day tend to have forward heads, rounded shoulders, slouching spines, tight hip flexors, weak abdominals, gluteal amnesia (aka weak glutes), tight hamstrings, and poor ankle mobility.”
— Chad Walding, The Sitting Solution
Sitting doesn’t sound pretty anymore, eh?

The Downside to Sitting

When we consume food in a stressed-out state–watching the news, on our laptop, believing the food is making us fat, in a mad rush–our body goes into survival mode. It misses the whole experience of eating. Digestion shuts down. The brain tells the body to store food for fat instead of using the food for energy. The body doesn’t even realize we ate at all–and gets hungry again. Soon.

Consider a Standing Desk

So, between my screaming-tight hips and a recent headline I saw: “Sitting Is The New Smoking”, I was sold on getting a standing desk.  After all, standing workers burn, on average, 600 more calories a day than desk-sitters. That adds up to a weight gain of 16 pounds within 8 months of starting a desk job. I didn’t want to become that statistic!  

“A meta-analysis and systematic review of 18 studies conducted in 2012 found those who sit the most were almost 50% at risk of dying early than those who occupy their chairs the least.”
—Darryl Edwards, Animal Moves

But here’s the rub…a simple stand-up desk isn’t enough.  In fact, while standing is a step above sitting, it’s actually linked to an increase in heart and circulatory problems, joint damage, and varicose veins.

It’s not necessarily the sitting that’s killing us, it’s the constant sitting. According to biomechanist and educator Katy Bowman, sitting is harmless when done appropriately.  After all, putting your butt in a chair doesn’t automatically make you sick. It’s the dose that determines the poison.

So, if sitting is horrible and standing all day isn’t that great either, what’s the answer?  
Everything in Moderation
Alternating between standing, walking, pedaling and sitting—and in as many different positions possible—along with taking breaks, seems to be the answer.  

My perfect office would include the following…

If you want to stay healthy, it’s all about constant adjustment. . .

And plenty of breaks. A couple guidelines and reasons to persuade you to get up, stand up and move:

 

  • Two-minute breaks every 20 minutes reduces blood pressure.
  • Walking 30 minutes after each meal lowers blood glucose levels.  If you’re pre-diabetic or diabetic, walking after you eat can be a game changer.
  • Increased core temperature during exercise may lead to reduced muscle tension and favourable alterations in brain neurotransmitters.” Translation:  moving chills you out and can put you in a better mood.
  • Your boss is going to love this one:  moving enhances your work performance.  One study found 42% of employees who moved every 30 minutes reported heightened engagement and concentration.
Remember 20-8-2.
The gold standard for sitting, standing and moving during any half-hour is: 20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes of standing and 2 minutes of moderate intensity activity.  Movement is the key though; simply standing didn’t provide the same health benefits as getting up and walking around for 2 minutes. 
Unless you’re in Colombia, where the government has installed software that freezes computers, forcing employees to take a break, you may just have to rely on an app or the alarm on your phone.
Just set a timer on your phone or try my favorite app: Stand Up! The Work Break Timer.  
Happy movement!
Julie Ralston

Primal. health coach