Stand up!

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 08/15/2012

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Are you sitting down?  Stand up!  (Really).  Go set a timer and spend one minute moving your body:  march in place, touch your toes, stretch your back — anything.

No really.  Stop reading and stand up. I’ll wait right here.


Welcome back.  Doesn’t it feel good to simply move your body a bit?  Human beings weren’t meant to spend much time sitting.  Our biology is tailored for hunting and gathering and otherwise moving around throughout the day.

Alas, these days many of us spend a LOT of time sitting.  Instinctively, we *know* this isn’t good…and more and more research is showing just how bad this is for our bodies.

Sitting can make us fat.  It increases our likelihood of  getting cancer — and doubles our risk of cardiovascular disease.  The more we sit, the less long we live. If you want the gory details, here’s a vivid infographic with some relevant research.

Worse, new studies have shown that exercising a few times a week does nothing to alleviate the ill effects of long-term sitting.

So what’s a busy DaVinci to do?   It’s challenging enough to juggle our multiple ideas, projects and talents — without also fretting about the bodily harm we’re incurring for every hour we sit.

The good news is that it’s easy enough to counteract the damage.  If you find yourself sitting for hours at a time, try any of these proven techniques:

* take short physical breaks every hour

Set a timer to go off every sixty minutes. When it goes off, this is your cue to stand up and move your body for one minute.  Stretch.  Touch your toes.  Walk down the hall and back.  Fetch a glass of water.  It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do anything other than sitting.  [Updated:  Recent research shows huge health benefits of interspersing six five-minute walking breaks throughout your day.]

* find ways to stand while you work

If you spend a lot of time using your computer, find a way to do at least some of your work in a standing position.

Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular…but if that’s not practical for you, search your immediate environment for a shelf, counter or other surface that’s the correct height for you to work comfortably.

* assign different activities to different locations

Is there a way to separate particular activities?  If your printer is in another room, for example, then any time you print something, you’ll stretch your legs en route to fetch your output.

* stand or pace when you are on the phone

If you spend a lot of time on the phone like I do, then this is a good one:  use a headset or bluetooth device so you can be mobile — especially for long calls or phone meetings.  Make a point of standing up whenever you take or place a call — and staying on your feet for the duration.

* use a stability ball instead of a chair

If you must sit, sit actively.  Sitting on a stability ball engages your core and lower body.

* try an app

Of course there’s an app for that — like this one.

* use your imagination

Devise creative ways to spend less and less time sitting down.   You’re a creative person — now apply your amazing brain to benefit your body.

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Check out my workbook: YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE:  A Workbook to Become the Person You Want to Be. Available here:



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