By Helaine Krasner, RD

Don’t take life sitting down. Recent studies point to an association between sitting time and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and abdominal obesity, a term for fat that accumulates around your midsection and usually associated with excessive visceral fat that surrounds your internal organs. All of those conditions increase your risk of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Some researchers say that sitting is the new smoking in terms of how strongly it is correlated with numerous health risks and an earlier death. You may be surprised that even individuals who exercise 30 minutes or more per day are still at increased risk of health problems if the remainder of the day is spent sitting. Experts recommend standing or moving one to three minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting time. As an added bonus, you can burn 30 percent more calories by standing compared to sitting, aiding in weight management. More standing time increases your NEAT activity level. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, a fancy term for the calories we burn performing our daily activities.

It’s been well established that exercise is important for overall health, but how we spend the remainder of our time is important too. The benefits of physical activity include lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer, stronger muscles and bones, improved mental health, and weight management.  Experts recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity (think brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as jogging).  A common recommendation to help guard against excess sitting time is 10,000 steps per day.  If that doesn’t make sense for you, start by tracking your average daily steps using a fitness tracker or phone app, and then set a goal to increase by 10 perent per week. You may be surprised how easily those extra steps add up.

Tips for reducing sitting time:

  1. Stand while you talk on the phone or read the mail.
  2. Stand or march in place while watching TV, even if it’s just during commercials.
  3. Suggest walking meetings at work.
  4. Invite a friend for a walk.
  5. Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up while working at your desk.

Helaine Krasner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.