If you work a typical nine to five job, you’re well aware that much of your day is spent seated at your desk. With the increased trend in wearable fitness trackers reminding us to stand up every hour, people are beginning to understand the benefits of standing up once every hour. If you don’t wear a Fitbit or Apple watch, you may not always remember to get your standing time in (and even if you do wear one, those notifications can be easy to ignore!), but it’s useful to be aware of what standing can really do for your health.
What is sitting doing to my body?
About 70% of the average person’s 8-hour workday is spent sitting (Dutta et al., 2014). This translates to over 5.5 hours of sedentary behavior (just at work!). Prolonged amounts of sitting have been linked to increased risk of certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Not to mention, staying in one position for too long can get pretty painful and uncomfortable. Think your desk chair is to blame for you back pain? Not standing up enough can cause just as much discomfort. While it’s important to get your 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, it’s just as important to spend about 4 hours per day on your feet.
Why is it necessary to stand you may ask? Your metabolism is the reason why. When you’re standing, an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase is released by the muscles in your legs that work to burn fat. When you’re in a seated position, this enzyme is not released and therefore your metabolism isn’t hard at work. This is why increased amounts of sedentary behavior is often associated with individuals with obesity or higher body weight.
The good news is that you really don’t need to do much to reap the benefits of standing. Start out by setting a reminder on your phone every hour of your work day to stand up. Try to walk around or even stand at your desk for about 5 minutes. See if your company offers standing desks. This way you can work while you are getting your standing time in. You may find you work even better while standing! It may also help to find reasons to stand and walk around. Get some fresh air, refill your water bottle, or simply go say hi to a friend!
Written by GUADS staff member Emily with contributions from health.com.