time to stand up!

time to stand up!

It’s likely that I’ll spend a fair amount of time sitting today as I’ve got homework, bill work and computer work on the agenda. Whenever I know I’m going to be sitting for nearly any period of time, particularly if it means working on the computer, I use the timer function on my phone to keep me focused on how long I have been sitting.


screen capture of my timers on my phone

I started this practice after listening to a Fresh Air interview with Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times Phys Ed columnist and author of The First Twenty Minutes, where she explained the physiological effects of sitting.  According to Reynolds, sitting for prolonged periods of time causes physiological changes in the muscles, the most dire being that the body stops breaking up fat in the bloodstream.  This leads to accumulations of fat in your liver, heart and brain.  You get sleepy; you gain weight; you become unhealthy.  The biggest problem with sitting is that it makes it harder to start moving when it is time to move, harder on the muscles, harder on the spine.

Reynolds’ solution is a simple one: just stand up.  As simple as it is, just standing up for at least 2 minutes, every 20 minutes of sitting, changes how your body responds physiologically. Standing up contracts the muscles in the legs, releasing enzymes that break up fat in the bloodstream, which improves your blood flow and lessens the amount of fat that will end up in your heart.  It decreases your chance of diabetes and lessens your risk of heart disease. Of course, moving around a bit more after you stand up making things even better for the body.

Now, whenever I know I’ll be spending more than 20 minutes sitting, I set the timer for 20 minutes and then take a 2 minute Tadasana break at the very least or walk around, get some water, or get in a quick Adho Mukha Svanasana for a little more exercise.

Nilofer Merchant gives an interesting TED talk on sitting as well…

[ted id=1726]

Or you could just do what I’ve done recently and get a new dog…  That’s increased my walking dramatically.

My timer just went off. Time to stand up!

Letitia Walker
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