Who would have thought that just by standing for longer each day would have real benefits for your health? You don't even have to use your rowing machine! A recent study by the University of Chester in the UK, has proven what has been suspected since the 1950s - standing is much better than sitting. In fact, standing for an extra few hours a day can help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and getting overweight.
The study showed that standing increases your metabolic rate (therefore you burn more calories), increases the production of insulin, and promotes the production of the enzyme that breaks down blood fats to fuel your muscles.
You may think that standing for 3 or 4 extra hours a day would lead to lower back problems, sore feet and tiredness. But in a study at a small British business, they found workers who stood at desks designed to be used when standing, found none of these expected symptoms to be a problem. The study compared blood glucose levels from a day of standing with a day of sitting and found the levels returned to normal more quickly after eating when standing. And it was no surprise to find more calories were used on the standing day.
In my role as a teacher of The Alexander Technique, I often work with people who say they suffer from long hours of standing during their work. However, this isn't due to the act of standing, it's because of poor standing postural habits.
The slump on the left can cause upper back, shoulder or neck pain because the weight of the head (approx 8-9 lbs) is pulling the neck forward. The 'stand up straight' posture in the middle requires way too much effort - especially in the lower back - and not many people can hold this for long before getting tired and collapsing back into the slump in the left.
Whereas the poised stance on the right needs much less effort than the other two. The head is sitting nicely positioned on the top of the spine and helps to balance the body with minimal muscular effort. And because most of the work is done by your postural muscles, they rely more on oxygen for energy, this means you can do this for hours on end without experiencing the usual aches and pains many suffer when sitting or standing badly.
So why not try standing for part of your day if you have a sedate job. Standing when making phone calls is an easy one to start with and could easily add up to one hour in a single day!
Then when you get home, you can sit down on your rowing machine :0)
More details of the University of Chester's study can be found on the BBC website here.
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.