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Stand Up for Your Cells!

May 11, 2014

I love this cartoon. It’s a reminder that to thrive, we need to create an optimal environment for every cell in our body.


Studies show that when we sit for too long, we increase our chance of developing metabolic syndrome, a precursor for heart disease and diabetes. Why? It’s a complex issue, but one reason is this: our cells don’t like to lounge on the couch.

Muscle movement triggers important processes within specific cells that help metabolize fats and keep those numbers your doctor likes to talk about in the right range.

When your muscles sit dormant, your cells create less of an important enzyme needed to keep this metabolic process going. When this process stalls, your triglycerides and cholesterol levels take a turn for the worse, increasing your risk for contracting life altering illnesses.


When blood work comes back with a not-so-great lipid profile, your doctor will most likely suggest better nutrition and more exercise.  Doctors have said this for years, but that instruction for exercise has been pretty generic and open to interpretation.

When the doctor prescribes exercise, many people think of joining a gym and spending two or three hours a week there. This can burn some calories and/or increase your strength, which are all good things when done responsibly.  But we now know that occasional gym time is not providing enough of  what the body really needs for optimal lipid metabolism.

To really help your cells metabolize fats and keep your risk for disease low, you need lots of low-intensity, intermittent activity throughout the day. That means more standing, more walking, and less sitting. All day and every day.  This will make the cells in both your cardiovascular and your musculoskeletal system happier!

Have you thought about how much you sit? Chances are you are sitting during all of these not-so-active activities: commuting, eating, reading, studying, writing, surfing the internet, attending school, doing office work, attending lectures and performances, sewing, knitting and other crafts, traveling on an airplane, waiting in the waiting room, watching television and movies, etc.

  • Get a standing or tread desk
  • Take walking meetings or phone calls
  • Set a reminder on your computer or watch to stand up and move at least every 50 minutes
  • If you can, stay standing during your commute on the subway or bus, or better yet, walk!
  • Get down on the floor and do some gentle stretches while watching television. Get up and walk around during every commercial break.
  • Walk around the airport gate and get a row seat so you can get up easily during the flight.
  • Walk around during performance intermissions, and consider getting the Standing Room Only tickets. You’ll save money and your health!
  • Get a pedometer. (I love my Fitbit One!) Strive for 10k steps a day.
  • Take a class in Restorative ExercisePilates or yoga and take 5 minutes every hour to do one full body movement you learned in class. It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It can be as simple as balancing on one foot, or getting down on the floor and back up again without assistance from your hands.








From → Health, Myth Busting

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