Few things are as satisfying as a good sit. Taking a load off in your favorite chair, putting yourself into park on a comfortable couch, lounging and vegging out for awhile… it’s a great feeling. But you can have too much of a good thing. A sedentary lifestyle can be a deeply unhealthy one. It’s important to take a stand for better health by getting up and getting a move on. For this week’s Wellness Wednesday we’re taking a close look at the health benefits of standing on your own two feet.
The Risks Of Settling For Sedentary
In today’s world, it can be easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Whether it’s working in an office or at home, taking online classes, watching movies, gaming, or spending time on social media, our digital world gives us many reasons to stay seated. Taking care to take frequent stretches and movement breaks is essential for maintaining your health because a sedentary lifestyle can lead to serious long-term health problems.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers (including colon, uterine, and breast cancers)
Spending most of our time parked in a chair could also lead to a poorer quality of sleep and a potential increase in stress and anxiety due to less serotonin circulating in your body from a lack of physical activity.
More Steps, Less Calories
One of the biggest and most immediate benefits that can come from adopting a more active lifestyle is a higher potential for weight loss. You burn a lot more calories when you’re on your feet because you’re activating and utilizing your muscle mass. Your body expends less energy when it’s stationary. The increased stress and poorer sleep quality that comes with sitting can also slow down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight.
Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels
Studies have found that people who are on their feet and are more physically active show lower levels of blood sugar than people who are sedentary. They even show smaller spikes in blood sugar after eating meals. Frequent standing and movement can also help you ward off insulin resistance, which can develop from a combination of poor diet and physical inactivity. Once insulin resistance kicks in, you’re on the road toward Type 2 diabetes.
Stand Up For Back Pain Relief
Research has also found that people who use standing desks and take regular walks report reduced levels of back and neck pain. Taking regular stretch breaks to stay limber and relaxed can also help mitigate pain and discomfort.
Skip Your Seat To Keep Your Heart Beating
Standing can help lower your risk of heart disease. This is due in large part to how standing and moving around promotes blood circulation, which keeps your blood from pooling in one place for too long and forming potentially deadly blood clots. As with most things, though, you want to take moderation into account: studies have found that staying on your feet for hours at a time could also increase your risk of heart disease.
Improve Your Mood And Energy Levels
Research has also found a correlation between physical activity and a reduction in stress. A body in motion is a body more likely to experience an improved mood and higher energy levels. You’re more likely to feel fatigued when you’re sedentary, so staying up and on the move is an easy way to keep yourself from feeling down.
How To Stand Up For Yourself
It’s all well and good to talk up the health benefits of getting up and moving. The question is how to incorporate standing into your daily life. There are a few ways to make this a regular habit:
- Get a standing desk if possible
- Take a 5-10 minute break every hour or so to stretch, walk, and get up on your feet
- Opt for taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park farther away from your destination to give yourself an extra minute or two of walking
- Consider investing in a pedometer that can count your steps to motivate you to keep moving
- If your destination is within walking distance and the weather is nice, leave your car at home
Article by Austin Brietta
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