Stand up for your brain

By Terry Small
Oct 27, 2023
Photo credit: simplehappyart/iStock/Getty Images

If you do too much sitting, then your brain will suffer

It turns out that scientists and medical experts believe that sitting is not great for your body, and your brain.

So many of us sit for long stretches at work and at school. We sit on the commute. And when we get home we sit some more. 

Prolonged sitting is bad for your health

It's not alarmist to say that all this sitting may be killing us. Research show that long bouts of sitting causes serious physiological responses related to chronic disease, and a shortened life span. The University of Queensland found that people who stood up frequently had lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker for blood fat). They also had smaller waistlines. 

It was the frequency of standing not the duration that counted

One study found that a woman's risk of developing metabolic syndrome increased 26% for every extra hour of sitting. Prolonged sitting in an upright position can strain your back resulting in chronic pain. Blood clots are another risk of being inactive. None of this is good for your brain.

Periods of standing throughout the day can improve circulation, muscle tone, and vitality. Standing up benefits the lean and overweight alike. Standing up frequently keeps blood flowing freely to your head.

I've been telling people in my live presentations for years that standing up is important for brain health. It is also important for your heart. 

Remember....what's good for your heart is good for your brain

It seems that when you sit down your body pretty much stops working. You and your brain were meant to move. Consider:

  • Taking more short breaks to stand up and stretch (or to walk). Maybe set a timer.
  • Have your meetings standing up (you will save lots of time on this one).
  • Stand up when talking on the telephone.
  • Consider a standing desk (or just raise your old one).
  • Set your office up so things aren't within arm's reach.
  • Read standing up (I do a lot of this). Plus, you will remember more.

Standing for just two hours during an average workday can burn an extra 280 calories. In a year, that might provide a weight loss of 20 pounds. Standing while you work improves concentration by increasing blood flow to the brain. Many who stand state that their thinking is clearer and they have an increased ability to pay attention and focus.

I think the key here is to be mindful and make standing up a habit. It just becomes what you do.

Terry Small, B.Ed., M.A., is a master teacher and Canada's leading learning skills specialist. He is the author of the Brain Bulletin with over 34,000 subscribers worldwide. 

Originally published on Brain Bulletin.