The Health Benefits of Standing Desks
A word to the wise:
You’ve probably heard it before, people who sit for a majority of the day have an increased risk of early death due to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Some of you may be sceptical and wonder if that is actually true. Unfortunately, yes, it is. A majority of our time seems to be spent sitting, driving, watching TV, sitting at our work desk, eating dinner and etc. Even if you’re working out on a regular basis, that is not enough to counteract the sedentary lifestyle. One rather simple solution to the problem is to use a standing or preferably sit-stand desk.
There are two options at your disposal. A standard standing desk which would require you to stand at all times, or a sit-stand desk which is the preferred option, but often more expensive.
A sit-stand desk or height-adjustable desk will you allow to raise and lower your desk whenever you want. They can come in a full desk model or a desk converter version. At my office, I have the desk converter version which I use daily.
How I use it:
The first time I used it was fantastic, I felt full of energy and more productive than I had been in ages. It must have been the increased blood flow that made me feel like I was bursting with energy.
On the second day I couldn’t believe how hard it was to stay standing.
In all honesty, it is a dramatic change at first and your body will definitely feel it. The more that you stand, the stronger your legs will become. It took me about a week or two to push through the discomfort of standing for long durations and a bit of experimentation with how long I would stay standing at one time.
I don’t stand all day, every day. Because I “batch” my tasks for the day I already have a semi-structured day. I figured the easiest thing to do was to switch between standing and sitting along with those tasks. I typically stand from 9-11am and sit from 11am until lunch. Once I am back from lunch I stand for as long as I can comfortable before taking a 15 to 30-minute sitting break. After my short sitting break I stand until the end of the day.
One think what really helped was getting a floor mat. It provides a softer foundation for you to stand on and takes away a majority of the discomfort in your feet and ankles that happens after standing for long periods.
What are the real benefits?
Obesity and Diabetes:
It goes without saying that living a sedentary lifestyle puts you on the fast track for gaining weight. But it gets worse. The longer you sit and the more out of shape you get, the greater the health consequence. According to a collection of studies on PubMed, the greatest sedentary time compared with the lowest sedentary time was associated with 112% increase in the relative risk of diabetes.
Another not so pleasant after effect of a sedentary lifestyle is the risk of heart disease. According to the same study on PubMed, when they studied the greatest sedentary time compared to the lowest sedentary time, the people living with the most sedentary lifestyle had a 147% increase in the relative risk of cardiovascular events! Sounds like a good reason to get moving!
I don’t think I need a medical study to convince you that sitting all day is bad for your posture. The longer we sit, the more slouched we get. Sitting all day weakens our bodies core muscles and often pushes our heads forwards, especially when we are looking at our phones.
By standing at our desk we engage our core muscles a lot more. As long as our desk is set up at the correct level for ergonomics, it will keep our body and necks in a straight healthy posture with minimal slouching.
Back and Neck Pain:
At the moment, I am enjoying my youth with a mostly pain free body. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. Whether it’s a sports injury or a sitting injury, some people are plagued with back pain every day.
Good news! A standing desk could be the solution to your back pain. According to a study conducted by CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by standing for 66 minutes per day at work, upper back and neck pain was reduced by 54% within 2 weeks!
Mood and Energy:
If one of your reasons for not getting a standing desk is because you think it will be tiring, think again! A majority of people who change to a standing desk have expressed that they felt increased energy and less fatigue in general.
Dancing to Music:
I am not sure if this is a benefit or a disadvantage. Usually when I am sitting and listening to music I will tap my foot or move my head to the beat of the music. Now that I am working at a standing desk I catch myself dancing around a bit at me desk and have to quickly look around to see if anyone noticed me!
After being the first in my office to try a standing desk, and having other begin using them as well, I truly believe that the health benefits of standing desk is fantastic. Whether it is for health or overall productivity and better posture I have personally had positive results. Unfortunately, it may not be the best option for everyone and others may not have an employer willing to upgrade desks for their employees.
Regardless it is important to break up your time sitting and make sure to keep your body active.
- Go for a short walk around your office every 30 minutes.
- Do some body weight squats and stretches throughout the day.
- Go for a short walk outside.
- Stand up while you take phone calls.
It difficult to find ways to stand when you are stuck working at a desk, so try to find any ways you can break up your sitting throughout the day.
Have you ever tried working at a standing desk? Did it you find it was a positive or negative change to your life?