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Get up.

Yes, you. Right now. Stand up on those two feet.

Good, you just helped ward off potentially fatal diseases (you can thank us later). According to a new study, sitting is terrible for your health — so don’t even think about plopping yourself back down on that couch.

Toronto researchers pored over data from 41 international studies involving 800,000 people, and they found that the longer you remain locked in a sedentary position, the higher your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death.

“But wait!” You say. “I exercise like an athlete, so this doesn’t affect me, right?”

Wrong.

The paper, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that even if you hit the gym before or after work, your risk of developing the diseases mentioned above will still rise by about 15 to 20 per cent (90 per cent for diabetes).

So why is sitting so bad?

You burn half the calories sitting that you do standing, for one. But being fully upright also helps to strengthen bones and muscles through gravitational forces. Since people spend about half of their waking time sitting these days, we’re doing more damage than we realize. Neville Owen, a heart and diabetes researcher with Baker IDI, even went as far as calling chronic sitting an “occupational health and safety issue” in the video above. But if exercise isn’t the solution, what is?

Here’s where the good news comes in: All you have to do is stand up more often. Dr. David Alter, a senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute who led the analysis behind the study, recommends that people get up and walk around for a few minutes every half hour. Not bad, right? Even if you’re a couch potato, just stand up at the commercial breaks of your favourite show, or get on your feet near the end of a hockey game (you’ll be in the perfect cheering position that way, anyway).

Other possible solutions:

  • Read your work emails while standing
  • Get a workstation made for standing
  • Go out for regular walks
  • Set a recurring alarm that will remind you when to stand
  • Turn off your screens (sitting is less fun when you’re staring at a black square)

Now get out there and stand with pride!