Stand Up for a Healthier You

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I recently discovered The First 20 Minutes, a new book by New York Times columnist Gretchen Reynolds. The book offers some simple advice that almost everyone can use to get fit.  One of the most interesting tips the author suggests is directed toward those of us who spend our work time tethered to a desk.  She says that standing up for two minutes after 20 minutes of sitting can have an impressive impact on how the body functions.  Research has shown that prolonged sitting is associated with many detrimental changes in our body, including reduced fat metabolism and muscle function, and increases our risk of sedentary lifestyle-related diseases.

A study on diabetes risk factors has suggested that women who sit for long periods every day may have a higher incidence of developing diabetes.  Interestingly, although the men in the study sat for the same duration of time each day (five to six hours), they didn't show the same correlation for increased diabetes risk.  This research raises lots of questions about what factors may influence the data, but the take-away is that prolonged sitting isn't good for our health.

Here are some of Reynolds' suggestions for getting some standing time in during your work day:
  • Take a walk to a water fountain or walk to a nearby colleague's office instead of calling or emailing. 
  • Store things you need just out of reach so you have to get up and walk to get them. 
  • Walk to a park and eat lunch instead of ordering in.
  • Try to take standing breaks at home, too: stand as much as possible, whether you're talking on the phone or watching TV. Bonus points for hopping on your treadmill or stationary bike, if you have one.

For more creative standing tips, check out this website.

Reynolds also suggests ways to improve your fitness and daily calorie burn with tiny changes to your lifestyle, like these:
  • Take a walking break instead of a coffee break.
  • Do wall push-ups while you wait for copies.
  • Program your computer to alert you to get up for a short walk every hour or so.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park a couple of blocks away from work or in the furthest parking space from your office building.

If you can't take the time to work in exercise during the workday, consider trying some of these tips. Get others involved by sending out an email that reminds your officemates to do their two-minute stand, or by encouraging others to stand while taking phone calls. It's the little positive changes we make every day that have the biggest long-term impact on our health!

Be sure to use the Fitness Tracker to tally up your workouts!

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RACHAEL2020 11/27/2020
Good tips Report
DEE107 10/5/2020
thanks Report
FISHGUT3 5/6/2020
thanks Report
Great article! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Great idea just not always easy to do Report
I love taking stand up brakes it work with my desk job Report
I think a mix is good. It's now been found that standing all day can also have problems similar to sitting all day; I read this online at an article about standing desks; ymmv. Report
I created a standing workstation using a box for the mouse, a couple three-ring binder notebooks for the docking station, and an old double briefcase for the keyboard.
It's easy to stack the stuff on the floor when I do need to sit, but I spend most of the day standing now. Report
Wow, thanks for the suggestions! I just put one of those square small Ikea tables on top of my desk - it's the perfect height for standing work!! Report
I went from a standing in a little spot for my whole 8 hours as a cashier to a desk job. I am free to leave my desk when ever I want, then being a cashier that had to wait for someone to cover my spot. So I do get up and walk the whole store from one end to other end to get my walk on. I don't just sit for the whole 8 hours. So it's not so bad having a desk job for me. Report My company was offered a handful of free workstations. I happened to be one of the lucky few who were able to get one. They mount your screen and keyboard to a movable arm, that way I can bring the whole computer up with me when I want to stand and I can also pull it down to chair level if need be. They offer different types of set ups, i.e. double monitors. Check it out! Report
I have completely removed my chair from my work space - I created a platform to put my computer at an appropriate height and I now stand at my desk for 6.5 hours every day - so even on the days that I don't get to "work out" I still am burning WAY more calories than if I were sitting and I have tons more energy throughout the day and when I get home. The 20minute theory is great but I highly recommend a standing desk - it will change your life!! Report
I exercise 6 days a week, most of the time. I track all of my fitness and food, on the tracker. I ride my bike, take water aerobics at the pool, and do some yoga. I try to walk when I can. Report
Had to take a more sedentary job tethered to a computer this past year and have been feeling the effects of 6-8 hours of nearly constant sitting. I'm going to implement the 20-2 approach as well as more stretching. Thanks for this blog. Report
I have a countdown timer on my watch. I set this to go off every 25 minutes so I can stand, stretch, walk around... I highly recommend it. Report
Thanks for the blog! I see I'm not the only one to comment that I'm requesting the book from my local library!! Report
include some stretches while standing Report
In addition to going to the gym each morning, I try to get out for a short walk during the workday. It's a good way to get some vitamin D and get a mental break from work as well as moving the body during the day. Report
Thanks for posting, that's a great way to break up the day at work. I sometimes get so stiff it takes a few minutes to get going, this will help that. Report
Interesting timing... I put this book on hold at my local library, and *just* got the e-mail saying it's ready to be picked up! I'm looking forward to reading it even more now! Report