I’m sure you’ve heard the warnings in the news about the negative effects on our health from prolonged sitting.
Did you get a standing desk? (Here’s mine. Built it with an old computer desk and heavy duty crates.) Have you been wondering why the weight hasn’t been just falling off now that you have a standing desk?
What the heck? Wasn’t that supposed to super-charge our daily calorie burn?
I decided to take a deeper dive into the research to learn more.
I came across some research that might explain why simply standing at our desks isn’t the magic pill we’re looking for.
These researchers looked at results from 46 studies with a total of 1184 participants – the average difference between sitting and standing was about 54 calories if standing for 6 hours.
But wait! That’s the average. Read closer – it was less for women. Only 36 calories for us.
That’s not per hour – that’s over the entire 6-hour period! Per hour, that’s only 6 calories per hour more if you stand as compared to sitting?! (I honestly thought it would be more.)
And standing at a desk for that long has its own negative effects. It’s hard on feet and knees.
But sitting all day is also bad for the hips, back and neck. We already know about that.
Maybe a better plan would be to not just stand? Maybe move?
The right balance according to Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, is to not sit for longer than 20 minutes at a time. He recommends a 20-8-2 split for minutes. 20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes of standing, 2 minutes of movement.
Still not convinced this will make a difference in your life? How about this? Getting up and moving for 2 minutes for every 20 minutes you sit can improve your blood chemistry if you’re pre-diabetic.
This study of overweight, pre-diabetic adults looked at the change in blood glucose and insulin levels after meals.
They were divided into 3 groups. One group just sat. The second group sat with 2 minutes of light-intensity walking every 20 minutes. The third group sat with 2 minutes of moderate-intensity walking every 20 minutes.
They found that the people who had walking breaks, whether it was light- or moderate-intensity, had lowered their glucose and insulin levels.
If you get up and move for just a couple of minutes every 20-30 minutes, you’re going to burn a few extra calories. But even better – you might improve your pre-diabetic risk factors!
For those of us who are over 45, that’s a big deal.
For anyone working to get off meds for a condition that is positively impacted by lower bodyfat and improved insulin sensitivity, it’s a big deal.
Little changes made consistently over time add up.
I think we can work with it this information. Let’s combine sitting, standing, and walking to cover our bases.
Consider a normal 30-minute period at work…
20 minutes sitting / 8 minutes standing / 2 minutes walking
How to do that?
What can you do to get those 8-minute standing and 2-minute walking sessions at work?
Make a list of things you can do standing up if you don’t have a standing desk.
- Stand up, step in place, calf raises in place. up your heels.
- Partial body weight squats.
- Organize shelves.
- Clean something.
- Go to the restroom.
- Go to mailroom.
- Standing – well, there is that copier…
- Volunteer to run errands for coworkers.
How about those 2-minute walks?
TRY THIS – Count how many steps you can get going down the hall for 1 minute, then turn around and come back.
That’s going to be about how many steps you get in 2 minutes.
Even if you can’t structure your time to be 20 minutes sitting/8 minutes standing/2 minutes walking, you’ll know how many steps you want to try to get every half hour.
I’m just tossing out ideas here to get you thinking about how you can use this research to get a little healthier while at work.
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