Sitting around for long periods of the day is probably the worst thing you can do for your body, but unfortunately it is exactly what almost all of us do.
Virtually all work involves us sitting at a desk for lengthy periods of time. If you’re a teacher, lawyer, accountant, writer, programmer, whatever it may be, your work includes a desk and hopefully a comfy chair.
While comfortable, this is one of the worst things we can do for ourselves. Did you know that sitting for prolonged hours can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity? While it’s not possible to avoid deskwork, you can now do your work standing, instead of sitting, with a standing desk. This may sound horrible at first, I know, I get it, but it really could be a life saver.
A standing, or stand-up desk, is a desk which lets you comfortably work while standing. Its height can be adjusted so that you can alternate between standing and sitting as required, and many of them even tilt, so you don’t have to put extra strain on your back if you need to write, draw, or read.
While standing IS good for you, it’s more that sitting is bad for you and will cause problems. Read on to see how these issues can be avoided by getting out of your chair.
1. Lowers the risk of heart disease
The longer you sit, the greater the risks of your developing heart disease. In fact, the effects of prolonged sitting on your heart are so severe that even an hour of intense exercise will not make up for the negative effects of sitting throughout the day.
Bus conductors who stood throughout the day decreased their risk of having a heart-related disease resulting in death by 50% compared to their than their driver counterparts.
2. Reduces back pain
One of the common complaints of workers who sit at their desk for long periods of time is back pain. Since this is something that affects just about everyone, many studies were conducted to find out if standing desks proved helpful to employees suffering from prolonged back pain.
A study was conducted where volunteers changed their posture from a seated to standing one every 30 minutes throughout the day. It was noted that this lead to a reduction in fatigue levels and lower back pain.
In another study, sit-stand devices, like standing desks were used, and the results showed that if you can reduce your sitting time by 66 minutes a day, you can reduce back and neck pain by 54% along with improving your mood.
One hour less of sitting helps that much!? I’m going to do it now.
Try to make it a habit. Standing is not a cure all. Once you stop using a standing desk and fall back into your old habits (and plush chair), all the improvements you felt will be gone within 15 days.
3. Lowers the risk of weight gain and obesity
You gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn and you lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume. This isn’t news to anyone. What if I told you, that by just standing, instead of sitting, you’d be able to burn as much as an additional 170 calories a day.
If you add it up, you can burn an extra 1000 calories a week. We’re not talking about running, cardio, or something extreme here, just standing. You’ll also strength your core muscles at the same time, and that could help to speed up your metabolism. Win-win.
4. Lowers blood sugar levels
If you’re worried about your blood sugar levels, especially if you have type 2 diabetes or other insulin related issues, listen up. You can help regulate the insulin spikes after your meal with a standing desk. Seriously, it’s true.
All you have to do is stand after lunch to reduce the spike and alternate between standing and sitting to reduce blood sugar spikes. In fact, sitting for prolonged periods after meals leads to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, and is one of many reasons why the use of standing desks should be encouraged at work.
5. Improves mood and energy levels
Standing desks also seem to reduce feelings of stress and fatigue while improving your mood and energy levels. While this may seem surprising, studies have proven that prolonged sitting was associated with higher depressive symptoms.
Beware The Adjustment Period
It does take a while to get used to standing for long periods of the day. You’ll likely experience some soreness in your legs and back at first, because you’re working out your muscles way more than you were before by sitting, but after the adjustment period, you’ll start to feel much better.
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You’ll want to stand up for this
Yes that was a little corny. I couldn’t help it. Apologies.
Improve your posture, lose some weight, and get more productive with a standing desk. These are just a few of the many reasons to look into one. If your company doesn’t offer them, talk to someone in charge to inquire about them, or browse office furniture shops for your own.
You can also get creative and make your own for the time being until you find the perfect one for you.
Whatever you do, get started now. Sit less and stand more.
If for some reason your company just won’t let you get a standing desk, still make an effort to get up throughout the day. Stand while you’re taking on the phone, while you speak to colleagues, or while you’re not doing something specifically related to the items on your desk. Start today, and you’ll feel the effects in no time.