Normally, when preparing to receive bad news, you’d sit down. In this case, you’d better stand.

Recent studies confirm prolonged sitting erases the benefits of exercise. So even if you run or pump iron for an hour every morning, if you sit for the next nine or ten hours – commuting, working at the computer, eating dinner, watching tv – you’ve wiped out most of the gains from your workout. Research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, calculates that an hour of sitting can undo eight percent of fitness gains from each hour you exercised. (Here’s a summary in

Keep reading to learn why sitting erodes health and a simple way to solve the problem.

Even more alarming, a recent meta-analysis published in the The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that sitting is associated with a 24% increased risk of colon cancer, a 32% increased risk of endometrial cancer and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer. Partly that’s because sitting can lead to obesity which can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and various cancers.

But extensive sitting also damages your health in other ways. Sitting for long periods of time shuts down the enzymes responsible for burning fat and creating good HDL cholesterol. Sitting also seems to suppress a gene that helps control the type of inflammation at the root of many chronic diseases. (Here’s a good summary article of the research.)

The solution? Get up from your chair twice an hour and walk for two minutes to keep the blood flowing through your large skeletal muscles. Stand and walk in place while talking on the phone. During lunch, take a brisk walk. Here’s an interesting article about walking as a superfood. And here, in The Art of Manliness, are 7 Simple Exercises to undo the damage of sitting.

Finally, stand up to read this hilarious and informative diary by a New York Magazine writer who vowed not to sit for a whole month.

The takeaway? Ceaseless standing isn’t healthy, either.