On your feet. Yes, stand up right now, and you'll give yourself an instant health boost. "Research
shows that people who sat more than 11 hours a day had a 40% higher
risk of dying in the next three years than people who sat less than four
hours a day," says Professor Olivia Judson from Imperial
College London. Breaking up sedentary time may well be a life and death
issue, but for those of us chained to our desk jobs we need a little motivation to stand up. Here's what happens to your body every time you leave your desk…
1. Your brain activates
second you stand up you engage your calf muscles, which increases your
venous return, otherwise known as the rate of blood flow," explains
registered osteopath Leah Hearle, who advises getting up every 30 minutes, even if it's just to take a phone call. "This rush of oxygen-rich blood to your brain improves concentration and raises your energy,
so standing up is when your best ideas will naturally come." Staring
zombie-eyed at the screen doesn't deliver the same results.
2. You're happier
When? IN 2 MINUTES
surrounded by miserable colleagues is mentally draining. "We are wired,
automatically and unconsciously, to mimic and absorb the emotions of
others around us," explains Professor Paul Dolan, author of Happiness By
He refers to a Swedish study in which subjects smiled and
frowned in response to happy and angry faces, even when they saw those
faces for a fraction of a second. His answer? "Surround yourself with
upbeat people who boost your mood." You can't necessarily choose who you sit with, but you can stop by a friendly colleague's desk in the name of work, or chat to a friendly face in the kitchen as the kettle boils.
3. Your sugar craving calms down
When? IN 10 MINUTES
eat up to three times more at work than we do on an average day at
home. As well as your colleague's obsession with buying 'treats' for the
team, a review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proves snacking at our desks puts us at risk of overeating.
Results show eating while distracted means we not only eat more at that
moment, but we also eat more calories than we need at our next meal. So
when the chocolate digestives get passed around, that's your cue to get
up from your desk.
4. You burn more fat
When? IN 1 HOUR
Standing up burns 50 more calories per hour than sitting down, says a University of Chester study. So every
time you walk to a colleague's desk instead of emailing, or fill up at
the water cooler, you're increasing your daily calorific expenditure.
If you're lucky enough to have a standing desk, you can burn up to
52,000 calories per year while at work, which is the same as running 20 marathons.
5. You sleep better
more activity into your day, even just walking for 15 minutes, can
improve your sleep quality," says performance coach Dalton Wong, author
of The Feelgood Plan. The cumulative impact of being more active – even
if it's just taking the stairs to a meeting and having a stroll around
the block in your lunch break – is even proven to alleviate insomnia, according to a study in the journal Primary Care Companion.
6. Reduce your risk of cancer
When? LONG TERM
Years of sitting down slowly snowballs to increase our risk of six different cancers. Breast and colon cancer are most impacted by sedentary behavior,
according to research from the U.S., which suggests chairs could be to
blame for over 90,000 cases of every year. The same study also links
another 80,000 cases of lung, prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancer
to excessive sitting. So every time you leave your desk, you're taking
one small step towards a healthier future.