Sit, sit, sit. We sit at our desks at work. We sit at school. We sit in our cars while commuting. We sit for meals. We sit to watch our favorite TV shows. We sit too much.
Studies have pointed out that sitting too much can make us sitting ducks for bad health—in everything from being overweight, getting diabetes or cancer, having a heart attack or even an early death. In fact, inactivity is such a health hazard that there’s now a new area of medical study called Inactivity Physiology. Its focus is to research the effects of our sedentary, tech-driven lives that result in a deadly new epidemic that researchers have termed “sitting disease.”
Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri, explains that after sitting for an extended period of time, the body starts to shut down at the metabolic level. Research backs that up. The less you move, the less fat you burn and the less blood sugar you use. For example, for every two hours you sit, your chances for getting diabetes go up seven percent. Heart disease risk increases, too, since the enzymes that keep blood fats in check are inactive. Additionally, key enzymes for breaking down triglycerides switch off.
And it doesn’t matter where you’re sitting, just that you’re sitting too much. Interestingly, after about four hours of sitting, the body starts to send harmful signals, according to Elin Ekblom-Bak of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences. She further explains that genes regulating the amount of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down. Shockingly, sitting for a full day can reduce your fat-burning capability by 50 percent.
You see? Sitting too much really is a health concern, but it may also interfere with the creative process during routine office meetings—where we mostly sit, too.
A recent study points towards the possibility that standing up during office meetings can lead to more engagement during meetings as well as setting the stage for more willingness to share ideas. Here’s what happened. Teams were given 30 minutes to create and record a university recruitment video. Some groups sat in chairs around a table, while others stood.
Those in the standing teams were more excited about the creative process and were more willing to offer their ideas—the outcome of which gleaned more information sharing and better quality videos, according to the study findings. The study was published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Study co-author Andrew Knight, of the Olin Business School at Washington University, said, “Seeing that the physical space in which a group works can alter how people think about their work and how they relate with one another was very exciting. Our study shows that even a small tweak to a physical space can alter how people work with one another.”
So, stand up! It could help your health and your creativity.