Stand Up!

If you sit for most of the day, you are significantly increasing your risk for a heart attack.

Independent of other factors, including smoking habits and overall activity level (for example, “I work in a cubicle but I go to the gym after work every day”), sitting all day isn’t good for you.

No one is yet sure why.

This article from Men’s Health is not the first place I’ve seen this information surface (though all the things I read probably referenced the same study). It makes the following suggestions for how to get more standing time in a sitting (office) job.

  1. Take two breaks each hour: stand and stretch, get a cup of water, run an errand — anything to get you up and moving for a minute or two (or more!).
  2. Stand up when you are on the phone.
  3. Write short emails. Let the content of long emails be dealt with in person (walk to see them) or over the phone (see point #2).
  4. Get a stand up desk.

When you’re standing, you don’t want your body to hurt. We sit in chairs, usually with terrible posture, through at least 12 years of school, then get jobs where we sit in a car for too long to get there, sit all day, commute home, sit down for dinner, and sit to watch TV. As a result, the muscles that are supposed to hold you upright when you stand or sit without support have gotten weak, so it might be a bit tiring at first. Just like all other muscles, with regular use, they’ll build up strength and endurance.

Stand with both feet on the ground, toes pointing forwards. Evenly distribute your weight, knees soft, hips square.

Stack your knees over your ankles, your hips over your knees, your shoulders over your hips. Look in a mirror, profile. What feels like “straight up and down” probably isn’t. (You probably feel like you’re leaning backwards when you’re actually standing straight.)

Let your hips and shoulders relax. Many of us spend a lot of energy holding up our shoulders; let them fall.

The Alexander Technique is amazing for posture and body use — I highly recommend finding a practitioner in your area and taking some lessons, whether you sit all day or not!

On Thursday, I’ll give you some stretches you can do at your desk to help counteract Cubicle Body.

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