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How much you should be standing each day to prevent disease – Dr Michael Mosley advice

Dr Michael Mosley on the benefits of exercise

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Dr Michael Mosley explained why you should add standing up into your routine on his BBC Radio 4 podcast. Prolonged sitting can lead to “some pretty nasty” health problems, ranging from a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes to death from all causes. Luckily, Just One Thing shared how much you should be standing each day to prevent disease.

“I’ve been sitting at my desk now for an hour, trying to get some work done and I’m about to do something that really could have a long-term impact on my health,” Dr Mosley opened the ‘Stand Up’ episode.

Standing has various health benefits including lowering blood sugar and burning a “surprising” amount of calories.

The doctor said: “Spending more time on your feet really is a simple and easy way to boost your health.

“It raises your heart rate, helps your metabolism and is good for your bones.”

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How much should you be standing?

This time, Dr Mosley invited John Buckley, a professor of Applied Exercise Science at University Centre Shrewsbury, who provided the answer.

Professor Buckley said: “Remind yourself to just move and stand up as frequently as you can.

“At work [stand up] at least two or three times in an hour for a couple of minutes, just get up on your feet.”

He also recommended taking your telephone calls whilst standing up. “It’s quite interesting because if you have somebody do a telephone call standing up, they tend to walk about as well, so there’s an added benefit.”

Why is standing up good for us?

Apart from research suggesting various health benefits linked to this activity, the simple explanation is gravity.

Professor Buckley explained: “I think gravity has a lot to answer for and one of the best ways to look at it is people, who’ve done these studies.

“Where they’ve had prolonged bed rest, they’ve lost bone density, their circulation was reduced simply from not standing up and allowing gravity to pull on their body which is a small but constant force.

“Really, sitting down isn’t far off bed rest.”

Why has sitting down become a problem?

“Compared to even 50 years ago, we are spending much more time sitting,” said the guest professor.

Dr Mosley said: “Prolonged, uninterrupted sitting is incredibly bad for us.

“In the UK many of us spend 10 hours a day or more on our backsides.

“Sadly, that is linked to some pretty nasty health outcomes, including an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even death from all causes.”

The Applied Exercise Science professor explained that sitting down slows our metabolism, and lacks stimulation for any part of our body.

“Whether it’s our bones, whether it’s our circulation, whether it’s our metabolism keeping our blood sugars, it just drops to a resting level,” he added.

For those who think exercising after work can undo the damage, the Just One Thing host issued a warning. He said: “Emerging evidence suggests that unless you’re doing at least 40 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise daily.

“You cannot undo the damage that prolonged sitting causes and even worse if you sit for long periods, this actually decreases the benefits of exercise.”

“So, it’s definitely worth a try, it’s just one thing. Stand up for a few minutes every hour,” Dr Mosley advised.

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