If you are sitting down to read this you might want to consider getting up. According to experts, sitting for long periods can damage your health, as well as contribute to extra weight gain and generally make you feel glum. In fact a recent study has shown that being sedentary for extended periods can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and that simply standing up could help you live a longer, happier life.
"The average adult spends around 50 to 70 per cent of their time sitting down," says Dr Emma Wilmot, a research fellow in the Diabetes Group at the University of Leicester, who led the research. "You sit in your car, on the bus, train or at your desk all day. You then sit on your sofa in front of the television at night."
Sitting is a very low-energy activity. If you stand up and walk around you can burn up to four times more calories than when you sit down, plus shake off feelings of lethargy. Getting up more can also give you a positive outlook and help you to achieve a toned body.
"Making small changes to your sitting behaviour can, over a longer period of time, give you the same muscle change and definition that you would get by going to the gym," says Emma. Here are her top tips on how to keep on your toes.
Don't slump on the bus
Whether you get the train, the bus or the Tube to work the next time someone pushes in front of you to take a seat don't be annoyed. "They are actually doing you a favour and keeping you healthy," says Emma. "Also if someone starts talking to you while at the coffee machine or photocopier take the opportunity to stay and have a chat, no matter how boring the conversation."
Stand up for meetings
"If you compare someone who sits in an office to someone who is on their feet all day there's an 800 calorie difference in energy expenditure," says Emma.
When having a meeting, rather than sitting down around a table, try holding the meeting while standing up or in the summer talk business while walking outside in the fresh air. Instead of phoning or e-mailing a work colleague, get out of your seat to see them in person. A meeting in which everyone stands up keeps you more alert and less likely to zone out at important moments.
Change your desk space
"Sit/stand desks are height adjustable and can be easily raised so you can work for intervals on your feet," says Emma. "If you're feeling really adventurous there are even slow moving treadmills available, set up with a desk so you can walk without leaving your work area. "If that's not possible then get up out of your chair at regular intervals and go for a walk. "If you often forget to stand up set your computer to give prompts every hour or so." You could also move your telephone to a place where you need to get up to
Try to go for a walk rather than sit in a coffee shop. Also it's easy to be upright at a bar so try to encourage that. If you're chatting on the phone get up and move around or do something such as tidying up. "When paying bills online or browsing the web use the kitchen work surface to put your laptop on. It's just the right height to use while you stand," says Emma.
Get up after meals
"Standing after dinner stops the glucose levels in your body rising," explains Emma. "If you sit still the glucose in your blood stream is 25 per cent higher than if standing. This increases your risk of diabetes. Going for a walk after eating a meal also helps keep your cholesterol levels at bay." Walking will also take your mind off reaching for sweet treats after a big dinner, helping you to keep off unwanted weight.
Watch less television
It's very easy to settle for a night on the sofa. However try simple tricks such as walking around the block between arriving home in the car and going in. Then spend longer cooking and chatting with family before eating. Emma adds: "It may not be very glamorous but try to do more housework. Getting jobs done will help you feel better and could aid sleep. Multi-task by standing up to iron while watching television or stand up during the ad breaks." (Hannah Britt/The Daily Express)