A Standing Order to Sit Less

Our bodies were created to move, but technology has made a sedentary lifestyle all too easy. Most Americans sit more than seven hours a day and spend nearly nine hours on screens.

Excessive sitting at our schools, offices and homes has been known to contribute to several health problems. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer have all been associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Too much sitting has also been linked to a higher risk of death.

If you think a few hours at the gym will balance out all the sitting, think again. Even if we do work out frequently, that alone may not make up for excessive “down” time, according to the American Heart Association.

To help limit the effects of sitting too much, we should consider getting upright during everyday activities. In addition to possibly lowering risks of chronic disease, moving more frequently during the day may increase energy, productivity and metabolism.

If you’re ready to take a stand, here are some ways to help increase the time you spend on your feet.

Office hours
Adjustable sit-stand desks have been integrated into more workspaces than ever, and inexpensive versions are available at many big-box stores. Set a timer to switch between sitting and standing every 30 minutes. That can help you make it a habit.

Even if you don’t have a standing desk, you can work more movement into your day with these suggestions:

  • Start standing for phone calls or take a stroll if you have a headset.
  • Encourage colleagues to have walking meetings.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Use the farthest bathroom and water fountain.
  • If you drive to work, park at the back of the garage.
  • If you take public transportation, consider standing while on board or getting off a stop early and walking the extra distance.

Home improvements
You’re just as likely to stay seated at home, binging the latest TV series, reading a book or doing schoolwork. These habits may help you get on your feet:

  • Answering emails at the kitchen counter.
  • Taking regular walks.
  • Tidying up for several minutes after dinner.
  • Standing up to stretch during commercial breaks.
  • Sitting on a stool rather than a chair, which makes the transition to standing easier.
  • Drinking plenty of water so you need more restroom breaks.

How much sedentary time is too much? Canada is one of very few countries that have set guidelines for sedentary behavior. Its recommendations, which are only for children, ar to allow children no more than two hours per day of recreational screen time, limit their extended periods of sitting and encourage several hours per day of light physical activity, like playing outside, walking a dog or helping with chores.