Liz Hoggard is a writer for The Daily Mail, she lost half a stone by staying on her feet more often every day.
Here’s her story…
Some people melt when they see babies or small kittens. For me, it’s chairs. I find myself stroking them longingly at parties (you do get some odd looks).
Whenever I pass a sofa or an armchair, I dream of flopping down with a cup of tea or sprawling across it with my shoes off. But I don’t. Instead, I march on past, gritting my teeth, as I stay standing. My name is Liz and I’ve spent the last month Mostly Standing Up.
Seats on the train or bus are banned. I’ve conducted meetings and phone calls standing up. I’ve taken to typing vertically and learned to book ‘standing room only’ tickets at the theatre. I’ve even watched TV balancing on one leg.
Beware the chair: Liz tried standing up more often to see if she could lose weight
The reason for all this time spent upright? Weight Watchers’
new pound-shedding plan.
As well as the usual advice on diet and exercise, they now advocate you simply stand up more to lose weight. According to the company’s latest research, 67 per cent of us are off our feet, either seated or lying down, for an astonishing 20 hours a day. We watch more TV than ever, an average of four hours and two minutes a day. And yet we kid ourselves that we lead busy, active lives.
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Dr Stuart Biddle, Professor of Physical Activity & Health at Loughborough University, who is backing Weight Watchers’ campaign, says: ‘Even if you exercise for at least 30 minutes most days, you are still storing up health problems from being sedentary too much. The message is clear – move more and sit less!’
He has come up with a list of small changes you can make to incorporate sitting less into daily life – from using your smartphone while standing up, to placing your computer on an ironing board and even moving your bin away from your desk, forcing you to stand up to use it.
Tall order: Liz tried balancing her laptop on an ironing board and books so she could stand while working
He says you should water the garden using a watering can rather than a hosepipe. If there are just a few dirty plates after dinner, stand and wash them at the sink rather than loading the dishwasher and flopping on the sofa.
Convenience is the enemy of calories. And every second counts. Weight Watchers suggests you squeeze the muscles in your bottom repeatedly as you brush your teeth.
‘I hate the idea that something so innocent as sitting down is actually doing irreparable damage to my health’
Simply by standing and walking for five minutes in every 30 of an eight-hour working day – an hour and 20 minutes a day – Dr Biddle say an average adult could burn over 2,500 calories over one month. That’s a third of a stone.
‘Of course, more physical activity and healthy eating will also help a great deal, but small changes, like standing and moving every half hour, can be an important part of weight control,’ he adds. ‘The change will be slow and gradual. If we move more while standing, the benefits will be greater.’
A third of a stone just for standing up for a bit? I resolved to see what would happen if I stood up for three hours every day for a month.
On the first day, I had to take a rush-hour train to a meeting. Standing up was tough, and I had to go against all of my commuter instincts when I spotted the perfect seat. But I clung on for 30 minutes, distracting myself with a gripping novel.
Result: After a month of standing up more she lost half a
Mid-afternoon was another test as I wandered around an art gallery, without stopping for a coffee, followed by an hour’s window shopping and a stroll across the park to meet friends.
My calves began to feel tight, my back ached (memo to self: keep your handbag light or you end up lopsided). But I found that by walking through the pain I did actually feel more energised. By the evening, I didn’t want to sit down on the train, even as a treat.
Back at home, I watched an episode of House Of Cards, standing upright. It felt most peculiar, but I noticed I concentrated on the programme much more than normal. Sitting down clearly makes my brain sluggish, as well as my muscles. Frankly it was a relief to go to bed – lying down, what a hedonistic joy.
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The next day I got stuck into working while upright. Weight Watchers advises you to do some stretching or star jumps every half hour to kick start your metabolism. The star jump and I will never be friends, but I did try typing an article while standing up.
My desk proved too far away from my arms, so I repositioned the laptop on the ironing board, balanced on a pile of books. But I’m so damn short sighted that I still I couldn’t see the keyboard properly and felt like Les Dawson mangling the piano. Any concentration evaporated. Disaster.
While typing was difficult, making phone calls was a winner. I focused more on the conversation and it made me feel authoritative.
I did my best to remain chairless when I went in for catch-up meetings with editors, leaning against their desk rather than flopping down gratefully. And it is rather productive, with all business conducted in under ten minutes.
I’m not surprised to hear that U.S. companies favour this style over long, sit-down conferences where people get too comfortable.
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As the month went on, I began carving away the time I usually spend on my generous English bottom.
And I discovered that going for dinner was still possible thanks to my new love affair with restaurants where you stand up to eat at the counter, from Japanese noodle bars to espresso counters. The only pain is you eat and leave, rather than lingering for a leisurely feast with friends.
Standing up can be socially awkward, too, as it does rather
unnerve other people. Female friends would say: ‘For heaven’s sake sit down, Liz, it’s not comfortable to have you towering over me.’
But after a month of staying on my feet for three hours a day, I’ve lost half a stone. And, yes, I was still eating cheese and drinking wine.
I’ve bought a new pair of (size 14) trousers for the first time in ten years. My legs and stomach are more toned. I get up from the sofa without making that strange ‘Oof’ noise. I feel more capable and energised.
Though I know I will never be able to stand up all day, every day (I’m still working up the courage to ask for a blow-dry standing up; I’m 5ft 8in, will they ask an energetic young stylist to climb a stepladder?) I’m going to try to stay on my feet as much as possible.
I hate the idea that something so innocent as sitting down is actually doing irreparable damage to my health.
‘Those who sit a lot tend to have a higher risk of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, regardless of how much exercise you do,’ warns Dr Biddle.
I do still have dreadful chair lust at parties, though. So don’t be surprised if you come across me, standing alone like a wallflower, fondling a nicely-upholstered Chippendale.