You must already be well aware of the benefits of keeping yourself physically active.
But to most people, being physically active means rigorous exercises, gym memberships, or other expensive routines. Well, rigorous physical activity gives you optimal health benefits.
But it has increasingly been recognised that any physical activity, regardless of its rigour and intensity, confers health benefits too.
Countless people spend most of their working hours sitting down. A typical eight-hour working day can mean almost all that time is spent sitting down. That has been observed to be associated with multiple risks to your overall health.
The most obvious conditions are related to metabolism, high on the list being cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Further down the list would be a predisposition to certain cancers.
The link between prolonged sitting and predisposition to disease can be difficult to comprehend. When you sit down for long periods, your largest muscles relax. This means very little energy is expended, leaving you with excess glucose in your system. This initiates a cascade of events, some pretty complex, that eventually lead to incremental poor health.
By contrast, even ordinary movements, like simply standing up, help burn more calories and promote overall well-being.
Standing up appears so simplistic, but it can reap ample health benefits. True, you wouldn’t consider standing up as a form of exercise. But it actually is, there’s even a medical term coined for such a mundane exercise, ‘non-exercise activity thermogenesis’ or NEAT for short.
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Other NEAT equivalents are things like fidgeting, walking up a short flight of stairs, or just tapping to your favourite tunes. It all burns up some calories, and that’s a good thing for health.
If you sit a lot at work, get off your butt and stand up. Do it right now. Find a reason to get off your chair and just stand up. This may be your cue for a healthier pathway going forward. Take practical steps to make standing easier at work.
Get your desk modified so you can work when standing at times. Pick your phones while standing. Find any reason you can to just stand up every so often. Aim for incremental gains in the amount of time you spend standing day by day.
If you combine the two, your odds of cardiovascular disease will go down significantly. In other words, those who stand up a lot (and exercise some more), tend to have longer and healthier lifespans.
Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist.