COLUMN: Stand up in 2013
There are only a few hours left in this year for us to fulfill our 2012 New Year’s resolutions. Many of these are centered around fitness and health concerns, such as weight loss and exercising more regularly. Sometimes a new diet plan may be initiated at the start of the new year. Having realistic expectations that are achievable are generally more useful and less demanding than those that tend to be perhaps excessively ambitious.
There is perhaps a new resolution that you should consider – one that is quite simple and also believed to be very healthy for you. Simply stated – stand more. That’s right, if you are an office worker or person who sits down for six or eight hours a day, try to perform your desk job from the standing position if possible.
There have been several articles within the past few years stating that “those who sit for prolonged periods of time have a higher risk of disease” than those who stand or move about the office in a non-exercising manner. People who sit for more than six hours a day are 18 percent more likely to die of heart disease, diabetes or obesity compared to those who sit down less than three hours a day. Sitting at work may potentiate metabolic syndrome, stroke, and may be associated with a rise in plasma triglycerides and a decrease in insulin sensitivity. Your body uses less energy when at the sitting position, and, because of less muscle movement, there may be a decrease in the metabolism of fats and sugars and an increase in your waist line.
Sitting, however, does help to stabilize fine motor movement such as driving, computer work, drawing and driving. Standing requires about 20 percent more energy yet may be associated with varicose veins and neck pain if your desk is not high enough. Your early morning 30-minute run may not be so beneficial if you go to the office and sit down for the rest of the day. Plan to stand for half the time and sit for the other half, but movement is essential.
There are several well-known luminaries who were standers and worked at a stand up desk. This list includes Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Lewis Caroll and Charles Dickens, to name a few. So for one of your 2013 New Year’s resolutions, try not to sit down on the job.
David Keisler is a gastroenterologist and internist in Aiken.