Stand up 35 Times a Day

The act of standing up is more effective than walking for counteracting the ill effects of prolonged sitting. It’s the change in posture that is the most powerful signal, not the act of standing itself.

Standing up is effective, since it triggers changes in your body that are accompanied by moving against gravity. When you sit or lie down for a longer period of time, your body slows down a number of processes essential to keeping you healthy and young. Basically, lack of movement triggers unhealthy metabolic changes, resulting in increased plasma triglyceride levels, decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), and decreased insulin sensitivity.

Over time, these changes cause health problems, comparable to the ones that astronauts encounter when they go into space. On a mission, they can lose up to 1% of their muscle mass, 5% of their bone density and 25% of their aerobic capacity within one month, predominately due to the lack of regular movement against gravity. Fortunately for the astronauts and anybody who has been inactive for a longer period of time, these changes are largely reversible.

Interrupt Sitting Repeatedly

The key to counteract the ill effects is to interrupt sitting repeatedly throughout your day. According to NASA, in order to compensate for prolonged sitting, you should ideally stand up at least 35 times a day, equally spread throughout the day. This amounts to about twice an hour for every hour you are awake. This may sometimes be easier than other times, like in a formal meeting; but at least give it a try! At a bare minimum, avoid sitting for more than 55 minutes out of every hour.

N.B. It is also important to sit less when you’re not working. The average adult sits for 90% of their leisure time, and this leaves plenty of room for improvement. You don’t have to cut the time sitting down by half. The key is to break up the sitting; get out of your chair whenever you can, even if it is just to get some water. It’s these tiny non-exercise movements that offer an excellent return on investment, when it comes to your energy and metabolic health.