Try this: When you get to work tomorrow, set an alarm to go off every 30 minutes.

Each time it sounds, stand up or walk around for five minutes. Try this one full workday and stick to the alarm whether you're on a call, in a meeting, or taking a lunch break.  

Most likely, it will feel bizarre.  

This is how frequently we need to be moving. Researchers say people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have the lowest risk of early death. Studies have also shown extended sedentary bouts - namely, sitting too long- can severely impact the body, slowing circulation, hindering mobility, and even soften the bones.    

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The only way to reverse the negative effects of sitting is to stand more.

Even a grueling morning workout or evening CrossFit session won't remedy the impact of extended sitting. So the work is done consistently throughout the day.  

Whether you invest in a sit-to-stand desk, start an office-wide initiative, or get a dog to keep you walking outside for potty breaks, here is how your health can improve by standing more and sitting less.  

The Body Wasn't Designed to Sit All Day 

The human body was made to move! When we're in movement, all our systems activate to flush out, detox, revive, and strengthen. Take the abdominals, for instance. Even if you're simply standing instead of sitting, the abdominal muscles engage to maintain balance. You may not be not doing squats but you'll improves hip mobility by standing, which strengthens the body's balance. Excessive sitting literally makes the body less able to support itself, leading to a higher likelihood of falling as you age.  

The lesson is: the body doesn't want to kick back and relax.  

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Our bones crave weight-bearing activities to strengthen density. Blood is begging for movement to promote circulation, and the muscles ask to be activated. Even the brain benefits from movement. As new blood pumps it sends oxygen to the noggin, making you feel energized and refreshed.  

Today, Sitting is the Norm 

The world has become one big couch.  

We take elevators to cars that move us to office desks and back to elevators that zip us to long commutes where we elate to fall onto the couch mentally exhausted and zone out to Netflix before slipping into bed.  

The rise of streaming services, digital games, food delivery apps, and social media has allowed us to experience the world without leaving the living room. Meanwhile, overworking and the popularity of office jobs promote more sitting than ever before.  

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We are being conditioned to sit. Changes in transportation, communications, workplace, domestic-entertainment, and technologies have reduced the demand for physical activity.

Which is why the experiment above may be difficult... but necessary. 

The long-term damage of prolonged sitting isn't just weak abs. Sedentary behavior can lead to type 2 diabetes, higher cardiovascular risk, and larger waist circumference. According to the National Cancer Institute, sitting also leads to increases in colon cancer, lung cancer, and uterine cancer.  

Are you standing yet? 

Start at Work 

Adults spend about one-third of their life at work. Health experts suggest using work as an opportunity to "introduce strategies to reduce sitting time and break up periods of prolonged sitting to improve cardio-metabolic health." 

Many office spaces today come equipped with tools to help us sit less. Corporate health initiatives can inspire regular breaks throughout the day to drink water, move around, and even get fresh air. Other offices install sit-to-stand desks that mechanically raise or lower to allow more standing.  

Work remotely? Several gyms and health clubs invest in treadmill desks so you can walk as you work. Or follow this guy's lead and bring the treadmill to your cubicle...

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Some health experts suggest sit-to-stand desks are overrated. However, the key to using a sit-to-stand desk is remembering that it's not the same as exercise. Standing, in general, is low impact and will not produce the benefits of moderate-to-intense activity. Keep your sweat sessions scheduled and try to get in 60-75 minutes per day. 

Exercise Doesn't Erase Sitting

Another reason the office is the perfect place to start a new standing habit is because the adverse effects of sedentary behavior can still compromise your health even if you exercise regularly. Meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines for adults doesn't exempt you from the effects of prolonged sitting. 

This phenomenon has been confirmed time and again, spawning the term "Active Couch Potato." This paradox outlines that even among physically active people, the metabolic consequences of prolonged sitting causes health consequences.  So exercise + standing is the key. 

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Some Sitting is Worse Than Others 

Not all sitting is created equal. Some experts say that office sitting may be the best kind of sitting you do all day. For the most part, you're probably sitting up with a cup of coffee on the desk and not reclined with a tub of ice cream.  

Yep, couch/tv sitting is the worst for us. Especially if you spend four+ hours watching TV.

Sitting in front of the TV may inspire other unhealthy habits like binge eating or drinking, while also disrupting sleep patterns if your screen is on late at night.  

Should I Be Worried? 

We've been scared out of our seats by the deluge of articles claiming "Sitting is the New Smoking." Should we be freaked?

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Most experts suggest that if you're an office worker who is diligent about taking breaks to walk around and exercises outside of work, you needn't worry. 

The rule to keep in mind is that frequent movement wins every time.

Yes, prolonged sitting has been linked with chronic health issues and because of our modern lifestyles we're likely to be sitting more. But a new focus on health and wellness, both in our daily habits and the food and drink we choose to consume, has fostered a cultural environment of openness where we not only want to try new health trends but actively seek them out.  

Start with this: Set an alarm for every 30 minutes. When it goes off, get up.  

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