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The Health Benefits Of Standing More (Book Excerpt)
Monday, 4 January 2016 03:12:00 Europe/London
We’ve written previously about the benefits of being less sedentary, particularly while at work. In this post, we wanted to talk specifically about some of the benefits of standing more. This is actually an excerpt from a forthcoming book that is currently being written by our founder, Paul. Let us know what you think in the comments!
The health risks associated with long periods of sedentary activity are well documented, but the simplest solution might be to push away that chair and work standing up. That is the recommendation from one British scientist.
Dr. John Buckley, from the University of Chester, estimates we would burn an extra 3.6kg of fat each year by standing for three hours every day. In the same amount of time, we would burn nearly 150 calories, far more than sitting, as it causes our metabolic rates to crash. Standing breaks this cycle and re-engages large muscles like the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
A sedentary life removes the body from its natural state of constantly resisting gravity and increases the risk of premature ageing. That is according to NASA scientist Joan Vernikos who found similar patterns in astronauts who experienced weightlessness. The way to break this cycle is to interrupt patterns of sitting by standing up and changing posture. Fundamentally, standing up 35 times at once will not have the same benefit as standing every 20 minutes.
Cornel University’s ergonomic team echoes this piece of advice. They found inactive standing increases your chance of developing varicose veins and carotid atherosclerosis since there is increased pressure on circulation. Walking to the printer, the office floor or up a flight of stairs will suffice and your circulation will improve.
The analogy of the computer is a good way to describe the human body. Be inactive for long periods and it goes into ‘standby’ mode to conserve energy. As does the lipoprotein lipase (LPL) enzyme. Its main job is to break down fat molecules in the blood. However, an entire day of sedentary activity means the enzymes activity level plummets by 50 percent. To prevent a continual decline, the best advice is to awaken the body from ‘standby’ into active mode (standing would suffice).
Thanks to Professor Levine’s principle of NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) we know that standing burns three times as many calories per hour than sitting. A slow walk (1mph) burns 100 calories per hour. Suddenly, everyday activities burn more calories than sitting.
By encouraging posture breaks, staff might be more encouraged to visit colleagues instead of sending emails, such behavioural changes further highlight the social benefits of the standing desk.
Hopefully that has given you an idea of how something as simple as standing more can really benefit your health.