I ran 33 marathons last year by changing one thing – care to join me?

 “And wouldn’t you like to have the answer to these questions too while we are at it?”
How can I have less back pain?
What can I do to be smarter at work?
What can I do to get more oxygen into my lungs?
What can I do to burn more calories during a day outside of sport?
What can I do to help my digestive organs?
What can I do to help my blood circulation?
What does Ludacris, James Brown, Blue, Elton John, and Bob Marley have to do with this?

What if I told you that all of these questions have the same answer, including making me run 33 marathons? And that it all can be summarized right here by Ludacris in the first 10 seconds of his video:

Yes, that’s right, Ludacris knows what’s up. James Brown was right too when he told us to “get up offa that thing”. According to the book Deskbound there are a lot of reasons why sitting is bad for us, but the top two reasons are

“1. Sitting is an orthopedic disaster and can cause a myriad of body dysfunctions.
2. Sitting means that you are not moving, and being sedentary can have significant negative long-term health impacts.”

The perfect orthopedic storm (click for diagram)
We need to sit less and stand more, and the office is an excellent place to practice this. And if we do sit, we need to sit on the floor like a yogi, or on our knees, or in other positions where we are challenging our mobility, not locked into a hip-glued-stuck at 90 degrees because of excessive sitting. Our homes are an excellent place to practice this “new” way of sitting.

“A standing desk sounds great, but my office won’t supply one, so there is nothing I can do” is the most common comment that I get when this subject arises. Well I happen to disagree with this. First, I do have to say that I think that ALL work places should have the option of a standing desk. It is an investment in their employees health, one that will pay itself back during the long run for sure.

However, lets say that you work in one of these places that will not help you with a full on electric adjustable desk. Get creative and think outside the box! Don’t just give up, it is your health that we are talking about. Give this article to your HR department to give them feedback on what you and your department finds really important, and ask for their help. These days there are also a lot of really easy add-ons to a normal desk that makes it into a standing desk, that are not very expensive. Maybe your office can invest in that? Maybe you can go half-half? Check this out for inexpensive ideas or just google “stand up desk ideas”.

You should also think about the desk or work space you use at home, especially if you have kids. Help them to stay mobile as much as possible, and why not get them a standing desk? The Stand Up Kids Foundation is such a great project, and you should check it out even if you don’t have kids as there is so much useful information there. Listen to the podcast Pursuing Health with Julie Foucher episode #17 where she, Juliet and Kelly Starrett talks about standing vs sitting, and their latest project.

-Ok, so I also would like to have the ability to run 33 marathons in a year, how can I do that?
You automatically burn more calories standing than sitting. If you were to simply stand during normal office hours over the course of a year, you will burn approximately 100 000 extra calories. For a roughly average person running a marathon they would burn about 3300 calories. So, by the simple act of standing while working you have now burnt as many calories as if you had run 33 marathons in a year. Pretty nifty if you ask me!

-How can I have less back pain?

“Workers who used sit-stand desks were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations, according to a Stanford University back pain study. “(A)

-What can I do to help the internal functions of my body?
-What can I do to get more oxygen into my lungs?
-What can I do to help my digestive organs?

Excessive sitting impacts our body’s metabolic system: “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.”(B) ~ James Levine, MD, PhD

By standing you will improve the amount of oxygen that gets into your body, by not squashing your lungs while sitting, this also improves the blood circulation as it doesn’t get “cut off” from the pressure around your waist and hips. Less pressure around the stomach area and good blood supply also helps our digestive organs function properly.

-What can I do to be smarter?

Our brains work better with well oxygenated blood which it will get from standing, moving and standing up also activates different areas in the brain that makes us “smarter”. (C) The area responsible for movement is for example close to our memory area in the brain. That means that when our movement center gets activated our memory center gets activated too by close proximity. This is why kids will jump up and down while talking for instance as it is then easier for them to find their words. Also, think about it, when you get a very important phone call, will you stand up and pace around or will you sit down? I am 100% sure that you will be standing up.

Is standing at work the total solution for all your health problems? Of course not, that would be too easy unfortunately. It is however a great and super easy way to minimize the damage you are doing to yourself and stopping the process of your hips being completely glued stuck from a sitting position.

Remember to start gradually and wearing flat shoes or preferably none. Maybe you want to start with standing up first thing when you get into the office, and right after lunch for as long as you find comfortable. If you cannot see yourself standing all the time, try to think of it as interrupted sitting. Change does take time, so keep working on it, and try to avoid long stretches of sitting as much as you can. Ladies, if you are wearing heels, you need to take them off while standing, because they throw your hips into an awkward position no matter how fancy they are due to the angle of the heel. Maybe you can have a pair of flat shoes under your desk and just change for your meetings if need be?

Bob Marley tells us to “get up, stand up”, and Elton John says “I’m still standing”. But, amazingly enough Blue summarizes it perfectly with “All rise, all rise – I rest my case”.

 

I am already on “marathon #5 for this year, where are you?  😉

 


Resources

  1. A. http://www.juststand.org/tabid/636/language/en-US/default.aspx
  2. B. http://www.juststand.org/tabid/816/language/en-US/default.aspx
  3. C. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3546096/Standing-class-makes-children-SMARTER-Pupil-s-brain-boost-spend-lessons-feet.html
  4. Benefits of a Standing Desk https://authoritynutrition.com/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk/

Books

  • Get Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett
  • Deskbound by Kelly Starrett
  • Don’t just sit there by Katy Bowman
  • Move your DNA by Katy Bowman

P.S. Here is an inspirational Stand Up playlist

  • Get up – Ciara ft. Chamillionaire
  • Stand up – Ludacris ft. Shawnna
  • Get up, stand up – Bob Marley
  • The real slim shady (please stand up) – Eminem
  • Get up, stand up – Phunky Phantom
  • I’m still standing – Elton John
  • Still standing – Monica ft.Ludacris
  • Get up offa that thing – James Brown
  • Get up – 50 cent
  • Sax – Fleur East (ok, ok she doesn’t talk about standing up, but this song should be enough motivation for you to get out of your chair and stand up, especially on a Friday! “C’mon give it to me”)