Standing up – a small but highly effective activity

Stand up

Are you sitting down as you read these lines? If yes, how long have you been sitting down?

The Swiss population sits for most of the day. On average, it’s six hours per day, but some of us sit for as long as 15 hours. That is really rather a lot. But why is this important? This article will tell you the answer to this question and other interesting facts about sitting.

Sitting is bad for our health

In our daily lives, we have plenty of opportunities to sit – on public transport, in the car, at your desk at work, in school, at university, at the dining table, in a restaurant, on the sofa or in front of your television or computer. If we have a choice between standing and sitting, we very often opt for the latter. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that our surroundings genuinely boost our comfort.
The consequences of sitting for a long time must not be underestimated. All age groups are affected negatively. For adults, sitting for a long time entails the risk of inflammations, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, mental illness and mortality. In children, it raises the risk of metabolic disorders, for example, or of becoming overweight or of developing reduced bone density. As we get older, it may lead to circulation problems, which are associated with more frequent falls, reduced mobility and muscle wastage.

Does doing sport or exercise in your free time counteract sitting for long periods?

Unfortunately, no. Current studies show that sitting for long periods is an independent risk factor for our health. Sport can only diminish the negative effects. However, this does not mean that it is not important to do regular exercise and sport in your free time – they are a substantial health boost. These findings suggest that long periods of sitting in our daily lives – at work or in our free time – must be interrupted, even if you take lots of exercise in your free time. How can you do that? The answer is quite simple: stand up frequently to disrupt your sitting habit. Doing so is the best way to complement your active leisure activities.

Standing up is a good idea

Before we give you some simple tips on how to interrupt long periods of sitting, frequently and in different ways, it’s important to be aware of when you are sitting at any given time in your daily life. When is it particularly frequent? In these situations, can you stand up, or build in breaks in which you move?

Once you are aware of when and how often you sit and what your surroundings look like when you do, then you will find it easier to consciously interrupt periods of sitting.

Tips for standing up at work

  • Switch between standing and sitting. You don’t have a standing desk? Then talk to your boss and see if anything can be changed there.
  • Change your seating position from time to time. Make sure that you don’t remain in the same position for too long. Maybe you could even get hold of a gym ball and sit on that.
  • To avoid stressing your body, make sure your posture is good. For this, it is important to have an adjustable desk and chair, so you can adapt them to your height. Ask your employer to provide them.
  • Stand up regularly or introduce movement breaks. For example, you could get up to get a glass of water.
  • Stand up to hold conversations or meetings, or even walk during them.
  • Stand up when you talk on the telephone.
  • You can find information and exercises for people who sit a lot here.

Click here to get more tips on standing up when you’re travelling or in your free time.

When it’s beneficial to sit down

Of course, there are also jobs in which you need to work standing up. In such cases, sitting down occasionally is a relief and will help you to relax. Standing for a long time, particularly when the posture is unvaried, should definitely also be interrupted regularly. You should pay attention to the following:

  • Are there opportunities to sit down briefly at work? For example, spend your breaks or waiting times sitting down.
  • Consider whether there are parts of the job that you could maybe do when seated.
  • Make some movements that are different from your standing activities.
  • Use standing aids.These are not sitting opportunities, but could provide clear relief if you can on occasion lean your body on them.

You can read more about jobs which require a lot of standing up here.


Bundesamt für Gesundheit. (2020). Sitzen gefährdet die Gesundheit: Warum es sich lohnt aufzustehen! Eidgenössisches Departement des Innern EDI.
Forum BGM Zürich. (n. d.). Bewegung im Betriebsalltag. (2016). Aufstehen ist leicht gemacht, hat eine grosse Wirkung und kann einfach in den Tagesablauf integriert werden. Bundesamt für Sport.

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