What's your New Year's Resolution? Hitting the gym more? Cutting carbs?
There's an easier way to get healthy in 2014, and it doesn't require gallons of sweat or the elimination of bread. It's called standing.
A growing body of research shows that spending more time on your feet -- whether at home, at work, or during meals -- can have surprising health benefits. Even better, it's a whole lot easier to keep a New Year's resolution to simply stand more.
Remarkably, regular exercise can't undo the negative effects of sitting. According to Dr. Genevieve Healy, a researcher at the University of Queensland's School of Population Health, "We've become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9 or 10 hours of sitting."
It's no exaggeration to say that sitting is the new smoking. An analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that every hour spent on the couch watching television shaves 22 minutes off one's life.
Smoking a cigarette, meanwhile, costs the average person only 11 minutes.
But unlike kicking a nicotine habit, sitting less is as easy as straightening your legs and standing up. And believe it or not, giving your recliner or office chair some time off can bring substantial health benefits.
A study published in the February issue of PLOS ONE, a science journal, found that, when it comes to reversing the harmful effects of sitting, "increasing the time spent walking/standing is more effective than one hour of physical exercise." Good news for those of us who may have trouble making it to the gym.
A renewed commitment to standing can start at the office. An astonishing 86 percent of Americans spend their workdays planted in a chair.
But that's easy to fix. For starters, keep an eye on the clock and make sure to stand up at least once every thirty minutes. Instead of riding the elevator, opt for the stairs once or twice a day. Phone calls also provide a great opportunity to spend some time on your feet -- or to pace a little to get the blood flowing.
Height-adjustable sit/stand desks can help workers make standing an even more integral part of their office routine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that such desks can reduce workplace sitting by as much as 224 percent. Workers who adopted a sit/stand approach also reported having less back and neck pain -- and were in a better overall mood.
At home, it's important to resist the urge to plop down on the couch. As it turns out, television sets work just as well when viewers are standing up.
Although we rarely realize it, most furniture -- from lunch tables to computer desks -- is designed with sitting in mind. A shift to a more upright, standing-centric lifestyle, therefore, will require a change in furniture.
All too often, January's self-improvement project becomes February's personal disappointment. As 2014 dawns, avoid falling short of your resolution to be healthier in the New Year -- and simply stand up.
Dick Resch is CEO of KI Furniture.