What you need to know about standing up

You may have heard the recent health-related news that seems to be everywhere – the more you sit, the more at risk you are for obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels  – just to name a few.

Now add to that: The harder it is to get yourself up off the floor, the more at risk you are.

A study published in December 2012 by the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention reports that the more supports you need (like a knee, elbow, or a hand) to sit down and get up from the floor, the higher your risk of death from the previously mentioned complications.

The study of 2,000 men and women, ages 51-80, offers some valuable lessons and motivation. For example, needing more than one support resulted in a 2 to 5 fold increase in death rate. And if you can reduce the number of supports you need by just one, you can reduce your risk by 21 percent.

It may seem obvious that death risk increases with obesity, but even if you’re active and maintain a healthy weight, your risk is higher if you’re inflexible and less coordinated.

Being able to perform everyday tasks (reaching for a box of cereal, lifting up your kid nephew, and yes, sitting/standing) relies heavily on flexibility, balance, ability to shift your weight, exercise, coordination and ultimately, overall health.

Strengthening the stabilizing muscle groups can help with these efforts and reduce your overall risk. Developing the deep muscles of the abdomen, such as the transverse abdominus and the deep spinal muscles, can help with more than just getting a six-pack. It can help you live longer. Which is why I emphasize the importance of a well-rounded workout, involving all aspects of fitness. Here are a few things you can do on your own:

  • Practice deep breathing
  • Do planks and low back extensions instead of crunches
  • Practice yoga, or at least learn a few poses
  • Try Pilates, or learn a few Pilates mat moves or concepts
  • Be aware of your posture, thinking of bringing your chest and chin up during the day, instead of hovered over the computer.

If you can’t sit down or stand up without more than one “support,” you’re at risk. But aim for small fixes that will make a big difference: Lose weight, gain balance, become more flexible and ultimately, live longer.