Stand Up for Your Health
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Are you sitting down? Then get off your tush!

Even if you religiously run five miles a day, you likely spend too much time sitting, a new study says.

Northwestern Medicine scientists followed 91 healthy women between the ages of 40 to 75 and found that while most of the women exceeded the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, they still spent an average nine hours on their butts.

Not good considering previous studies have linked long periods of sitting to an increased risk of early death. Although researchers aren't exactly sure what causes this association, glucose may have something to do with it.

"There's a lot of work going on in this area," says Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D., author of the new study and adjunct assistant professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Some studies have found an association between extended periods of sitting and changes in glucose and insulin. There have also been studies in animal models that have shown that the way in which fats are metabolized in our bodies can be altered by extended periods of sitting."

It's impossible to eliminate sitting from your life completely, especially if you work in an office or corporate environment, and there's too little research to tell whether very active women have a lower risk of dying early from sitting than inactive women. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is keep hitting the gym.

RELATED: Take a pair of dumbbells to work and sneak in these five-minute workouts throughout your day.

"We already know that there are numerous health benefits to exercise, such as a decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more, so it's important to get at least those 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week,” Kraft says.

You can also try to give yourself a break from sitting, she adds. "Can you walk down the hall to talk to your co-worker instead of emailing? If you have a lengthy conference call, can you stand for part of it? Maybe you can get up and walk around for a minute every hour."

Well, if you ever needed an excuse to get up from your desk and step away from your computer, now you've got one! The bottom line? You probably can't stand up all day, every day, but the more you can move, the better.

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