If you quit smoking or never started, you've already done a lot to live a longer, healthier life. But the second most dangerous activity--and the next best way to live longer-- is unlikely to be on your radar. In fact, you're probably doing it right now. I've written before, sitting kills. Upper back pain and fear of early death after a sickly, painful life are why I built a simple stand-up desk topper for my desk at work.
Now, more reports confirm that sitting shortens your life and damages your health while you are alive, while more standing can protect you from disease, keep you thin, and make you more resilient and energetic.
Every hour you sit watching television cuts 22 minutes off your life. Gretchen Reynolds reports in NYTimes.com:
If an average man watched no TV in his adult life, the authors concluded, his life span might be 1.8 years longer, and a TV-less woman might live for a year and half longer than otherwise.
If you don't want to wait until you should be dead to reap the benefits of sitting less, then consider this. The likeliest reason your friend Janet can eat anything and stay thin, while you gain three pounds driving past a Krispie Kream is because Janet sits less than you do.
That's because the negative effect of sitting begins the moment you assume the position. In other words, when it comes to sitting, you don't have to wait to start getting fat, getting sick, and dying young.
Here's what happens the moment you sit down:
- Muscle electrical responses stop completely throughout your legs and and buttocks
- You calorie burn rate plunges to about 1 calorie per minute
- Insulin effectiveness plunges, which triggers your body to store everything as fat
- Risk of obesity and Type II diabetes rise
- HDL (good) cholesterol falls and LDL (deadly) cholesterol climbs
All without any change in exercise or diet.
Business Insider has a great summary of the latest research since I last wrote about my experiment last September. I made my stand-up desk for about $30 with materials from a single aisle at Home Depot. But if you want to go even cheaper, check this out.