Stop sitting down: How to get back on your feet

Susannah Hickling 30 November -0001

The evidence is piling up: sitting is bad for your health. A recent Canadian analysis of 47 studies concluded that people who remain seated for too long every day have an elevated risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and shorter life spans overall—even if they exercise.

But why? 

sore back desk

When you’re parked on your posterior for long periods, your muscles aren’t contracting, disrupting blood flow. You experience big reductions in insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, and have larger amounts of fat in the blood. This can lead to type 2 diabetes, which in turn can increase the danger of blood clots or heart attack. 

People who don’t get up and walk around frequently have an increase in a protein called fibrinogen—a major risk factor for deep vein thrombosis and cardiovascular disease.

As for the cancer connection, a lack of exercise may result in an increased level of C-reactive protein, which can put people at greater risk of breast and colon tumours.

Here’s how to move more throughout the day:


At work

water cooler chat

  • Exercise at your desk. Push up on your toes and rock back on your heels to get blood pumping from the feet to the heart. You can also shift weight from one buttock to another.
  • Don’t cross your legs.
  • Work standing up. You can improvise a stand-up workstation by placing your laptop on a raised breakfast bar, filing cabinet or bookshelf.
  • Have walking meetings rather than sitting at a conference table.
  • Make regular trips to the printer or water cooler.
  • Pay your colleagues a visit rather than sending them an email.
  • Go for a walk in your lunch hour.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift and use the loo on a different floor.


At home

playing video games

  • Stand up during TV commercial breaks and do some light exercises.
  • Stand while waiting to see the doctor or chatting on the phone.
  • Leave notes to remind you to get up every 20 minutes.

More advice on exercising at home