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Instead of sitting, try squatting or kneeling for your health

It’s well known that we spend way too much time sitting. According to one study, Americans spend nearly eight hours of their day seated. That’s no Bueno.

To mitigate some of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle (like heart disease), some have opted for standing desks or taking a lap around the office every hour. But a new study from the University of Southern California has given us something else to consider when it comes to resting postures.

According to their research, squatting and kneeling may be beneficial resting positions for our overall well-being. Here’s what they found. Researchers wanted to look at sedentary behavior and how it’s evolved over time, so they looked at a group of Tanzanian hunter-gatherers, called the Hadza, whose lifestyles today are pretty old-fashioned compared to the Western world.

Using devices that measured both physical activity and resting time, it was found that the Hadza had activity levels as much as three times higher than the States’ federal health guideline of 22 minutes a day. But they had pretty high levels of inactivity, too. With an average of nine to 10 hours of sedentary time—no less than you might see in more developed countries—how is it that the Hadza have a significantly lower risk for chronic disease?

The answer seems to have something to do with resting positions like squatting or kneeling and how much muscle activity is involved in each. Based on special equipment that measured muscle activity in the lower limbs, the researchers found that squatting or kneeling positions used for resting aren’t actually providing total rest. Even through long periods of inactivity, these postures require muscles to maintain light levels of inactivity.

The takeaway, we suppose, is that if you are going to be in one place all day, try kneeling or squatting more instead of just sitting down.

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