There is so much compelling evidence that sitting a lot is bad for your health – not just bad for your back.   The headline is that those who sit the most have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and death than those who sit the least.

Why is this?  Because sitting causes an enzyme called lipase to be less active when you sit compared to standing / moving around.  Lipase is important in the metabolism of fat;  if it’s not active enough, the fat circulating in your blood continues on its journey to your hips and stomach area – bad news, as obesity is a risk factor for all sorts of illnesses many of which can lead to early death.   Also, inactivity results in poor sugar metabolism, increasing your risk of “metabolic syndrome”, the precursor to diabetes; diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is also a risk for early death.

Unfortunately, going to the gym for an hour (while being a lot better than not doing any exercise) may not be enough to offset the damage that your sedentary periods cause.  So what can you do if you have an essentially sedentary job?

Avoid Sitting

Literally, try not to sit unless you really have to; for me, I allow myself to sit at  mealtimes (though sometimes I eat standing up), and during tasks that require me to sit at a desk.  If you can take a phone-call standing up or walking around, then do so.  If you can have that meeting while standing or walking, then do it!  Research has demonstrated that many meetings are shorter and more productive when walking.

Stand at work

In my ideal world you would all have electric desks so that at the push of a button you can stand at your work station (I have been lucky enough to have one for the last 4 years, and I love it!).  These are available – at a price!  Standing burns 60 more calories per hour than sitting, and tends to stimulate lipase activity, though not quite as much as walking.

“Walk the message”

Instead of emailing your colleague upstairs, go and see her; and take the stairs!

Exercise at work

Remember, exercising for an hour a day probably isn’t enough to offset some of the damage that 8 hours of sitting does.  So, try to be as physically active as possible at work.   There are all sorts of movements you can do at work to get your lipase and blood sugar normalised; check out these exercise and ergonomic videos to follow at work.

Let me know how you get on with your own “move more” campaign.