Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Be a Desk Potato; WORKSitting All Day at Your Desk Snacking on Crisps Is Getting Us Down and Making Us Fat. Time to Stand Up for Yourself, Says Susannah Butter

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Be a Desk Potato; WORKSitting All Day at Your Desk Snacking on Crisps Is Getting Us Down and Making Us Fat. Time to Stand Up for Yourself, Says Susannah Butter

Article excerpt

Byline: Susannah Butter

NEWS is generally best received sitting down but this is an exception. However comfortably you are sitting, get up! A sedentary lifestyle is turning Londoners into desk potatoes, drab and round in the middle. One in five Britons admits that they barely leave their desk during working hours and the average person walks for only 10 minutes a day, according to new research by private health firm BUPA.

"Sitting has become the smoking of our generation," says author Nilofer Merchant. "It's so prevalent that we don't even question it. And because everyone else is doing it, it doesn't occur to us that it's not okay." The study, in which researchers from YouGov interviewed 2,000 people, shows women walk for 12 minutes a day and men for eight. This falls far short of the 60 minutes of exercise a day recommended by the NHS. On average, we spend longer sitting (9.3 hours a day) than sleeping (7.7 hours). And having too many sitting days over a prolonged period of time can lower the base metabolic rate because the muscles aren't stimulated enough. Sitting down, the average person burns 50 calories per hour -- that's only a fourth of a Kit Kat. Standing burns 40 per cent more calories than sitting.

It can also lead to hypertension, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, according to studies by Dr James Levine, director of obesity solutions at the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University. "We're not meant to sit for so long," says oesteopath and inventor Simon Freedman, who has invented a chair designed to maintain standing posture. Being desk-bound, packing into the Tube home and then walking five minutes to the house is not ideal. Especially since work makes people stressed, releasing the hormone cortisol that tends to make weight build up around the midriff.

But there are ways to become more French fry than full-on desk potato. So don't take it sitting down, take a stand and save your body.

Continued on Page 38 "Awareness is the first step," says Antoni Akagi, head of personal training at Equinox gym. "Be aware of how often you're sitting down and aim to walk every half-hour or hour, even if it's just to get water. …

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