Why Standing Can Be Better For Your Health Than Sitting

Is Sitting The New Smoking?

Standing Room Only: Why Standing CAN BE Better For Your Health Than Sitting

Do you spend most of your day at the office? Or work from home? Are you a full-time student? Or spend most of your time driving for a living? Well regardless the reality, quite simply, is that many of us today are sedentary. Sitting too much the majority of your day or taking too few breaks from sitting is bad for your health. In contrast, spending more time standing can help to improve your overall health, help with chronic low back pain and even boost productivity!


For the past decade, the evidence has continued to mount that leading a sedentary lifestyle comes with some potentially adverse health effects. For example, sitting for most of the day can increase your risk of fat gain and obesityraise your blood-sugar levelsdecrease insulin sensitivity, as well as increase your risk of heart disease.

Sitting Impact on Heart Disease And Premature Death

In one famous study from the 1950s, it was found that bus conductors who were moving all day had half the risk of heart disease death as colleagues who sat in the driver’s seat all day and a meta-analysis and systematic review of 18 studies conducted in 2012 found those who sit the most are almost 50% at risk of dying early than those who sit the least


There are more calories burnt when standing vs sitting, as standing requires 20% more effort. Also extended periods of sitting (greater than 60 minutes) have been shown to suppress lipoprotein lipase activity - an enzyme involved in fat metabolism which means the body is more likely to store fat, and reduce the amount of dangerous circulating triglycerides too.

What is the ideal ratio of sitting to standing?

There is such a thing as over-standing too. One study from Dr Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the optimal mix of sitting, standing and moving during any half-hour was 20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes of standing and 2 minutes of moderate intensity activity. That’s sometimes referred to as the 20-8-2 rule. 

The current recommendations for desk-based workers is to aim for 4 hours per day of standing and light activity (such as walking) during working hours to avoid the issues around "sitting-disease".

You can also invest in a standing desk, which is exactly what it sounds like - a desk that's designed for standing use. The better options allow you to easily adjust the height of the desk or platform so that it’s ergonomically optimised for typing and staring at the computer screen all day whether you are sitting or standing. 

If you are on a budget just use a few boxes on top of your desk in place of a hi-tech solution if that's possible in your workspace.

Exercise May Not Be Enough

"One hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting. Reducing inactivity by increasing the time spent walking/standing is more effective than one hour of physical exercise, when energy expenditure is kept constant."

The important principle to keep in mind here is that you should mix it up when it comes to standing, sitting and moving. Sitting all by itself is not good for your health, but neither is standing all day, either. It’s best to add periods of standing with bouts of movement throughout the day, simply take breaks from sitting often.


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