You may have not tasted chocolate or munched a pakora in years, but if you are still lugging around several extra kilos, stand up (literally) and take note. Sitting has emerged as the biggest weight-loss enemy.
The hour spent at the gym and the incessant dieting amounts to nothing if one is spending too much time seated in a chair or sprawled on the couch. It is estimated that the average person spends a whopping 20 hours a day either sitting or lying down. Research has shown that this kind of sedentary routine is as much to blame for growing waistlines as the consumption of junk food.
Medical experts across the world are therefore asking people to lift their butts and move as much as possible to stay trim. Finland’s health ministry this week advised Finns to eat their meals, watch television and read the newspaper standing up whenever possible. Some offices in the US and Europe have also introduced high work desks so workers have no choice but to stand while using the computer.
A study published in the European Heart Journal showed that people who take screen breaks regularly have waistlines that are more than an inch-and-a-half narrower than those who don’t. Doctors say office-goers should stand or walk for five minutes every half hour of an eight-hour workday. That would put them on their feet for at least an hour and 20 minutes daily and help burn 2,500 calories every month.
Liz Hoggard, a journalist with leading American tabloid ‘The Mail on Sunday’ tested the ‘stand-up-to-slim-down-theory’ by staying on her feet for three hours a day for a month. The result: she lost over three kilos. Better still, she had not even stopped eating cheese or drinking wine.
Less sitting also leads to a host of other health benefits. Researchers have found that office-goers who get up often have high levels of ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol, lower levels of triglycerides, and lower C-reactive protein, which is suggestive of the process that causes blocked arteries. Prolonged sitting, on the other hand, has been found to increase rate of diabetes, heart disease, and even depression. The Finnish government has also warned that among those who sit more than seven hours daily, every additional hour sitting down ups the risk of death by five percent.
So, how can you ensure you sit less, stand more?
- Place your computer on a pile of books stacked on your desk.
- Keep the waste bin away from your seat.
- Leave your phone on a distant table.
- Use the toilet on a different floor and take the stairs to get there.
- Hold meetings standing up.
- Walk over to colleagues to discuss ideas rather than email or call them to incorporate more movement in your routine.
Maybe offices should bring back coffee stations and the water cooler. Those would have workers walking to the cooler and coffee station and standing to chat with other workers.
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