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More dangerous than a packet of…

Experts are warning that the chair you sit in could be more dangerous than a packet of cigarettes, and they are increasingly backed up by scientific research.

One person who knows more than most about the perils of heart disease, diabetes and cancers is health journalist Louise Atkinson, 50, of the Daily Mail, who took up the challenge to spend a full month on her feet behind a standing desk. She committed to standing up to eat as well, and to watch TV, socialise and when spending time at home.

On the second day, she admitted to a few aches and pains, but a heart rate sensor and motion monitor showed a resting heart rate in the high 70s per minute, as opposed to the usual low 60s, showing a boosted metabolism. At one point, Louise found she had burned an extra 500 extra calories per day just from shifting from foot to another at her standing desk. She also reported sleeping better, and feeling more alert, and that her stomach felt tighter and flatter. Meanwhile, shoulder and upper back pains she had felt for years pretty much vanished.

By the end of her four week mission, she had stood up for at least six hours each day. According to the most conservative estimates of one expert, this will have burned hundreds of extra calories daily, or some 10,000 in total. By the end of the experiment, the writer had lost half a stone and lost 2cm from her waist, so that she went from a size 14 to a size 12.

At the same time, her body fat percentage fell from 32% to below 30, for the first time in almost 10 years. Had she been suffering from high blood pressure, or excessive cholesterol levels, these would also have fallen. So it’s no surprise she says: “I’m a convert to standing up while working.”

You could become a convert too, even if you perhaps decide to take a more gradual approach than Louise did, perhaps with a height adjustable or sit stand desk, which allow you to take breaks from standing.

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