Sit down, stand up

I had a teacher once who said:

Lying down is closer to dying than sitting. Sitting is closer to dying than standing. Standing is closer to dying than walking. Walking is closer to dying than running.

And man could he run. Even though I’m sometimes cynical, there’s a grain of truth to his little saying. Evidence suggest that sitting for extended periods increases your chances of dying from a heart attack. Why? Well if I were to don the hat of eastern wisdom, I would say that movement is life and stagnation leads to pain and disease. From a western perspective, sitting in your chair all day means that your muscle activity drops which basically has a chain reaction in your body. You burn fewer calories and your body’s ability to break down fat in your bloodstream decreases. All bad news really.

To make matters worse, studies are finding that even exercising is not really good enough to counteract the effects. Basically it boils down to this:

People need to stand up more.

Which puts many people who work in offices in a quandary. Basically, if you have to sit on a chair all day, it’s better to fidget, bounce your legs, tap your toes anything that means you move, even just a little. Better still is to get some standing up time – a height adjustable desk means you can work standing up and sitting down, and varying it through the day tends to help people control their weight and stave off back pain. Or there’s always the option of using a fitness or stability ball for your chair since it will engage your core muscles and tends to make you move more. At home, spend more time standing up in the evenings. Maybe watch your TV standing up rather than slumped on the couch…..

It’s interesting to consider your practice in the light of these studies – if you spend your days sitting in a chair and your nights attempting to sit as still as possible in meditation, you might be doing more harm than good. What then to do? Well for meditation, you could take up standing meditation practice – not as barmy as it sounds really – people who train Tai Chi do it all the time and call it Zhan Zhuang or Standing Post.

More important though is to get some movement into your day – don’t just sit there in your job dying. Stand up, take a break, stretch walk, move, run.