Most of us have read disturbing headlines that sitting can kill you. But if you work in an office, you may feel that you are just stuck there sitting behind your desk with no other options to do anything better or different.
However, there’s a growing trend trying to change all that. More and more people are using standing or treadmill desks, which help in combating our sedentary work style.
Is your chair shortening your lifespan?
Too much sitting can be detrimental to a number of health outcomes including diabetes, heart disease, overweight and obesity.
People usually underestimate how much risk they are taking by sitting all day. It’s unnatural to sit for eight to nine hours each day. Spending the bulk of the day in a chair or on a sofa has been linked to early mortality. It also messes up the way the body processes sugar.
Even if you’re doing sufficient amounts of exercise and you sit for higher amount of time throughout the day, you have an increased risk of those conditions compared to people who are low sitters.
It means that engaging in that regular brisk walk of 30 minutes or more doesn’t necessarily offset the potential harmful effects of too much sitting.
We sit in our cars, offices, restaurants, residence and many other places without realizing how much time we are spending sitting. We need more opportunity to stand, other than the one hour at the gym.
While sitting, your hip flexors are in a shortened state and being in this state for extended period of time causes them to get used to this position. When you stand up, they stay shortened and pull your hips into a bad position causing your spine to be twisted in ways it doesn’t want to.
This twisting can cause bad posture which results in lower back pain and many other pains in areas that you don’t want.
Benefits of a Standing Desk
When you sit for long periods, a variety of negative changes occur in your body. Your brain activity and your alertness decline. Your spine and your muscles compress. Your blood pressure rises and your calorie burning slows down to about one calorie a minute.
Burns more calories
Standing burns way more calories than sitting because you’re using more muscles in the process of standing. If you’re at your desk for eight hours a day or even more for gamers and YouTubers, you could be burning hundreds of more calories every single day, which means you can eat more or get leaner.
The cool thing about this is, that when you’re standing and you’re waiting on a video to load, a file to transfer or whatever, you actually will tend to move around even more, getting that blood flow and even burning more calories.
Long term health benefits
Many studies show that standing up even just a little bit more than we do every day, can make a huge difference in health outcomes and overall quality of life. Standing has many different health benefits such as lowering the chances for obesity, heart disease and even decreasing back pain if done properly.
Other benefits of using a standing desk are an increase in your focus, alertness and activity level. It also helps fight off naturally occurring slumps and bouts of fatigue that happened mid morning or early afternoon, like that two o’clock feeling.
These bouts of fatigue are often related to metabolic drops after meals are processed by the body. Staying active by standing, helps keep your blood sugar up to avoid these bouts of fatigue.
Helps maintain correct posture
Standing is better for you in terms of your hips, your back, your neck, and your shoulders as they are in a better position and it’s easier to maintain a neutral spine.
By being upright, changing your posture, spending more time standing, and moving around doing light activity, it seems to have an impact on how people feel and reduces the risk factors of chronic diseases.
Frequent postural change appears to be most beneficial for musculoskeletal health, metabolic health and brain health.
Changing your working position regularly helps prevent back problems, increases blood circulation, and oxygen absorption.
If you have an existing back problem, then standing at a high desk for parts of your day, rather than sitting at a standard desk all day, can offer great relief and aid the recovery process when back pain occurs.
Height adjustable standup desks are best suited if the same workstation is shared by multiple people of various heights. Each person can adjust their desk according to specific needs. This is particularly beneficial to those of taller stature to prevent stooping.
Types of standing desks
Fixed height standing desk
The fixed standing table is any setup which allows a person to stand while working, but doesn’t provide them with a choice to sit down.
Combined with the traditional standing desk, this category also contains some desks which were designed to keep you energetic while you work. Some examples are the treadmill desk and the elliptical desk.
Risers are in addition to your existing desk that provides you the choice to quickly go from seated to standing position or vice versa. These come in an array of options, sizes and colors.
Adjustable height standing desk
Much like risers, the adjustable standing desks can easily go from seated to standing position, but on these desks the whole surface of the table moves up and down. The position can be adjusted either electronically or manually.
Tips for transitioning to a standing desk
Avoid back pain while standing
Standing at your desk for a while will hurt your back if you don’t do it properly. First, you definitely need to get a floor mat underneath your feet to cushion your joints in your back. Any kitchen mat or an anti fatigue rubber mat that has sufficient cushioning can be used. You can also double up using two or more mats.
Avoid leaning on your desk or doing anything that would put stress on your back or neck.
Take frequent breaks
Another thing you’ll have to do is take breaks. Just like you shouldn’t sit for more than an hour at a time, you also shouldn’t stand for an hour at a time. For every hour that you’re standing you should try to sit for at least five minutes to take a break.
Pay attention to your posture
Your posture is as important as standing itself. While you are standing, your elbow should be at a 90 degree angle. Your monitors should be within arm’s reach and at a height where you can comfortably see them without craning your neck.
Make sure your head, neck and torso is in line with the top of your monitor just below eye level and your hands remain at or below elbow level.
It’s important to change your posture while you stand. So lean on different feet, don’t lean at all or use a stool to put one leg up and one leg down, switch legs and just keep moving so your body isn’t stagnant.
Do not stand all day
Extensive standing increases the risk of varicose veins and is harder on the circulatory system especially for the legs and feet. Standing at work makes us about 20 percent more fatigued than we would otherwise be and it also decreases our ability to perform tasks that require fine motor skills.
Wear comfortable shoes
Choose shoes that are supportive and that won’t bother you after several intervals of standing. If wearing comfortable shoes is not an option, don’t wear shoes while standing.
Keep track of time
Use a tool or an app to monitor your time spent sitting and standing.