Standing up is good for you. Taking a break from sitting on that office chair is good for your heart and your figure – at least according to research published in European Heart Journal.
It is widely recognised that physical inactivity can cause health problems. However, previous health messages have tended to stress the need for a formal exercise regime. This latest study, however, seeks to demonstrate the benefits of merely taking a break from sitting.
People who take ‘screen breaks’ most regularly have slimmer waists than those who take the least, with waistlines 4.1cm narrorer on average. The study of almost 5,000 American volunteers also showed that those who took a rest from sitting also had higher levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, lower levels of blood fats and lower levels of C-reactive protein which is an indicator of the risk of blocked arteries.
Dr Genevieve Healy, of the School of Population Health at Queensland University in Australia, who led the study, urged workers to stand up at work as much as possible, even during meetings.
“The benefits of regular participation in moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise are well accepted scientifically and by the general public,” she said.
“However, the potential adverse health impact of prolonged sitting – which is something that we do on average for more than half of our day – is only just being realised.
“Our research highlights the importance of considering prolonged sedentary time as a distinct health risk behaviour that warrants explicit advice in future public health guidelines. In particular, the findings are likely to have implications for settings where prolonged sitting is widespread, such as in offices.
“Our research showed that even small changes, which could be as little as standing up for one minute, might help to lower this health risk.
“’Stand up, move more, more often’ could be used as a slogan to get this message across.”