Recently two research studies were published that strongly support that if you have the choice between standing up and sitting down, that your body will be healthier if you stand up.
The first study, published 3 September 2014 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that people who began to stand more than sit showed changes in their DNA that are associated with younger people.
The Swedish researchers took 49 sedentary men and women, all age 68, and half of them were given an individualized exercise program (of moderate intensity), and also they were instructed to stand more, and sit less. The other half of the participants were just told to “try to live a healthy lifestyle”.
At the beginning of the study, and then after 6 months, the DNA of each participant was studied, with attention to the length of the “telomeres” in their white blood cells. Telomeres are the “caps” at the end of each strand of our DNA, and as we age—or suffer illness—the telomeres become shorter. Longer telomeres are better, since they protect the individual strands of DNA, insulating them from damage and fraying (like the caps on shoelaces).
After 6 months, the men and women who underwent the individual exercise programs showed that their telemores had become longer, while the telemores in the people who did not undergo the exercise program got slightly shorter. The researchers also analyzed how long the people in the two groups spent standing vs. sitting, and they found that for making the telomeres longer, that standing was even slightly better than the actual time spent in exercise.
The second study, published recently in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, examined the health records of over 16,000 Canadian adults between 18 and 90 years old. The results showed that the people who spent the most time standing (vs. sitting), had a significantly lower risk of dying during the 12 years of the study.
These two studies add more support for the concept that if we have the choice between standing and sitting, we should chose the standing option (assuming you have no medical issues that might get worse with standing, such as severe varicose veins or knee problems). Standing more seems to actually change our DNA into that of a younger person.
Even if you are good about exercising every day, be careful. If you spend too much time sitting, you may undo all the good effects from your exercise program. A good idea is if you need to sit for a prolonged period, every 20 or 30 minutes or so, get up and move around a little. You may live longer, healthier.
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