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If  you’re sitting at a desk reading this article, take a minute and stand up. That’s the latest advice from New York Times Phys Ed columnist Gretchen Reynolds. In her new book, The First 20 Minutes, Reynolds details some of the surprisingly simple ways you can combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Federal health guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise — such as walking or jogging — every single day. But new research shows that even regular exercisers may not be doing enough to counteract the health hazards of sitting down at a desk all day long.

“Sitting for long periods of time — when you don’t stand up, don’t move at all — tends to cause changes physiologically within your muscles,” says Reynolds. “You stop breaking up fat in your bloodstream, you start getting accumulations of fat … in your liver, your heart and your brain. You get sleepy. You gain weight. You basically are much less healthy than if you’re moving.”

Reynolds recommends standing for two minutes every 20  minutes while desk-bound — even if you can’t move around your office. “That sounds so simple,” she tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “But that actually has profound consequences. If you can stand up every 20 minutes — even if you do nothing else — you change how your body responds physiologically.”

Studies have shown that frequent standing breaks significantly decrease your chances of getting diabetes, she says. “If you can also walk around your office, you get even more benefits. You will lose weight, you lessen your chance of heart disease, and you will improve your brain. But if you can do nothing else, stand up!”

Reynolds says she’s started standing up every time she answers the telephone. “I bought a music stand, which costs next to nothing, and I can put papers on it,” she explains. “I read standing up. I try and walk down the hall once an hour. I walk outside and turn around and walk back in. That’s enough to break up the physiological changes that sitting otherwise causes.”

Reynolds’ book also details the latest scientific research on running, stretching and hydration techniques. ..

 

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