Stand Up for Better Health

Think about it: How much of today have you spent sitting? If you’re like most people, it might be close to 10 hours. And some recent research has taken a look at the repercussions this sedentary behavior might have on general wellbeing. To put it bluntly, scientists have linked increased time in the chair with an increased risk of death. Thankfully, the science also says reversing these risks may be as easy as simply standing up.

The Science behind Sitting
The new research, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, looked at survey results from over 54 countries comparing time spent sitting with overall death tallies. Ultimately, the study found that sitting alone (for periods of 3 hours or longer) was responsible for about 433,000 deaths per year. Interestingly, this was true even when the researchers accounted for bouts of exercise. In other words, that daily morning run might not be enough to counter 8 hours spent at a desk job afterwards.

Out with the Inactivity
So now that you’ve thought about your own seated-hours, you’re probably wondering, “What can I do?” The simple answer: Stand up. Even small changes have been shown to make a dent in this “death-by-sitting” phenomenon. Some offices are even starting to implement standing workstations as an alternative to the usual desk chair. Furthermore, researchers have found that even sitting with your legs attached to a motor-driven bicycle can undo some of the health risks associated with inactivity.

Even if you don’t have a specialized walking desk or motor-linked bicycle chair, you’re not doomed. Walk to your coworker’s office instead of sending an email, park at the far end of the grocery store, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s all about consistency; small changes made now could pay off in years later down the road.

(Feature photo courtesy of

Samantha Lunsky

Samantha Lunsky is an intern with the Healthy Aging Project, and a student in the Integrative Physiology Department at the University of Colorado Boulder.