COLUMBUS, Ohio – There appears to be one common theme in today’s hustle and bustle society – people are too busy to squeeze much physical activity into their daily routines. However, millions of Americans have all the time in the world, it seems, to sit.
Ongoing research is linking high amounts of sedentary time – prolonged sitting – to increased incidence of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and early death. Excessive sitting may also be responsible for low back pain, according to researchers here who also say there is a way to burn more calories and increase one’s lifespan by tweaking one small thing – sitting less and standing more.
According to Dr. Anup Kanodia, a family medicine physician and researcher from the Center for Personalized Health Care at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme which is responsible for converting low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, into high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, decreases 95 percent when you sit too long. This, in turn, could be one factor of excessive sitting which increases risk of heart attack by 30 percent.
“In a little over 150 years, we have gone from a society that stood or walked for 90 percent of the waking day to one that sits for 60 percent. Most people are coming into work and leaving sicker,” adds Kanodia, also from the Center for Integrative Medicine at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center is spearheading a “mobile campaign” which encourages university faculty, staff and students to participate in improving their overall quality of health and includes incorporating standing as much as possible. The campaign has been embraced and adopted by leaders who are setting a non-sitting example, starting at the very top with Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, CEO of the Medical Center. Gabbe uses an elevated table to complete paperwork and other tasks on a daily basis.
In addition, many employees organize and facilitate standing meetings.
This allows for open dialogue among attendees about the health consequences of excessive sitting, and conductors can also empower those present to stand as well, if they wish. Another way Ohio State employees and students are proving their commitment to standing is by holding walking meetings outside when appropriate. They use modern technology to take notes and record minutes. Also, tools and equipment that encourage standing, such as podiums and treadmill desks, are being shared in conference rooms and offices.
“When you’re standing or moving around, your muscles contract. They’re moving around and insulin helps the body in terms of moving sugar from the blood into different cells. But, when you’re sitting, none of that happens. So, if you’re on a conference call or participating in a webinar, do yourself a favor and stand up,” encourages Kanodia, discussing the benefits to standing.
The following are a few additional easy tips for standing to consider throughout the day:
Move from a sitting position to standing more often. When possible, get up and take a five-minute walk every hour.
Use a timer or computer program that can provide cues or prompts at designated intervals as reminders to get up and move.
Be aware of habits outside of the workplace or classroom and try to minimize time spent sitting as much as possible.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is part of a university-wide movement which promotes prevention and treatment, health and the transformation of healthcare delivery globally through research and innovation, evidence-based practices and community engagement.