Walking (or standing) more will keep you healthy

Want to reap the health benefits of walking an extra 45 minutes a day without actually doing it?

Who wouldn’t, right?

As it is, most of us struggle to fit in the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise. The good news is that researchers suggest that standing for an extra four hours per day actually burns the same number of calories as a 45-minute brisk walk.

Arguably more important is that standing takes the place of sitting, and there is mounting research showing that prolonged sedentary behavior, either sitting or lying down, is dangerous to our health. Just a few examples from the literature:

  • The British Journal of Sports Medicine published an editorial that showed that people who sat for extended periods, such as those with desk jobs, had a higher risk of risk of disease than those who move every now and then.
  • A study from the American Cancer Society showed that women and men who sat for more than six hours a day were at least 37 percent (women) and 18 percent (men) more likely to die from heart disease, diabetes and obesity compared to those who sat less than three hours a day, regardless of physical activity level.
  • Scientists in Louisiana evaluated the lifestyles of more than 17,000 participants and found that people who sat for lengthy periods of time were more than 50 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.
  • The Archives of Internal Medicine published a study that found that adults who sat 11 or more hours per day had a 40 percent greater risk of dying in the next three years versus those who sat less than four hours a day. (Eleven hours might sound like a lot, but it is very easy to sit that long if you drive to work, sit at a desk and relax in the evenings in front of a computer or television).

Furthermore, standing requires muscles to move and moving helps improve digestion, increase energy expenditure and lower the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including cancer.

So what should you do to move more and sit less? Follow these tips:

  • Use a stand-up desk. If you don’t have one, then find big books to prop under your computer.
  • Stand up and move every 30 minutes.
  • March in place or walk on a treadmill while watching television.
  • Take a short walk break at work. Hey, if smokers can take cigarette breaks, the rest of us should be able to go for quick walks.
  • Incorporate more walking during your commute.
  • Choose walking to your co-worker’s office over sending an email.

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