You might want to stand up for this. Sitting on your keister for too long too often not only increases your risk of obesity, heart attack, diabetes and even cancer — it also wreaks havoc on your liver.
A recent study suggests that remaining seated for extended stretches of time — at your desk, in front of the boob tube, on a plane, a train or anywhere — puts you at considerable risk for liver disease. Specifically, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), for which no standard treatment currently exists. We don’t like the sound of it either.
The sobering news, published in the Journal of Hepatology, comes out of Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in South Korea. There, researchers found that study participants who loafed on their duffs for 10 or more hours per day had a nine percent higher risk of developing NAFLD than those who sat around for fewer than five hours per day.
Related: Don't Let Too Much Sitting at Your Desk Harm Your Health
If you’re an average American worker (we sit down and work about 13 hours a day), this could be your wakeup call. Hello?! Sitting is the new smoking. You should know that by now.
Equally depressing is that the findings also indicate that routine exercise alone probably isn’t enough to counteract the health risks of being a total couch (or office chair) spud. Now it appears that sitting less is just as important to squashing “Sitting Disease” as is regularly as breaking a sweat.
Upwards of 140,000 Korean men and women, with an average age of 40 years old, participated in the study. Of those, 35 percent were diagnosed with NAFLD via ultrasound.
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With so few medications available to treat the disease, the best prescription for now is busting a move. A total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 10,000 steps a day, should do the trick, says Michael Trenell. The professor of metabolism and lifestyle at Newcastle University in England penned an editorial that appeared alongside the study in the Journal of Hepatology.
Lest you forget how important your trusty liver is, here’s a quick refresher. The large, rust-colored gland, tucked away in the upper right section of your abdomen, is the biggest solid organ in your body. Get up off your seat and show the big daddy some respect because it’s a purifying powerhouse that works triple duty. It dutifully strains toxins out of your blood, stockpiles energy in the form of glycogen and pumps out a key digestive liquid called bile. When the liver fails, well, you don’t even want to know.
To avoid finding out in the worst way, don’t take the startling study findings lying down. Stand up and fight “Sitting Disease” like so:
Stand up to work.
There are plenty of standing desks to choose from, even leaning and “breathing” desks. If you (or your boss) won’t spring for any of those, get crafty and improvise. Simply place your computer or laptop on a tall counter or table, stand tall and get cranking.
Related: In This Vision of a Healthier Workplace, Sitting Is Not Allowed
Walk and talk.
Get up and stroll around when you take calls in the office, obviously on a cordless phone and ideally without disturbing your coworkers.
Meet on the move.
Hold walking meetings. You’ll squeeze some calorie-burning cardio into your busy day and simultaneously team build in a fun, active way. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Entrepreneur’s own Steve Tobak are sold on this growing trend. Steve Jobs was also a fan of the moving meeting.
Toil on a treadmill.
Working on a treadmill desk (or on a standard treadmill rigged to hold a laptop) does double duty. Requiring mental and physical agility, it works your mind and your body. What’s more, one recent study showed that working on treadmill can actually boost your productivity. To minimize the risk of injury, please tread lightly.
Pose like a yogi.
Open up and say om and do some light yoga at your desk. Stand up and bend, twist and stretch once or twice an hour. Doing so improves circulation, chases away tension, poor posture and the blues. No yoga mat required. To get started, try these simple, restorative desk asanas, courtesy of Yoga Journal. Who knows? Maybe you’re coworkers will wonder why you’re impersonating a pretzel and join in the fun.
Whatever you do, get up, stand up. Stand up for your life.
Related: 8 Tips for Staying Healthy in an Open Office