Sitting too much is seriously harmful to your health. People who sit a lot every day have an increased risk for a range of health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even early death. This is a major problem for office workers, as they sit down for most of the day. The solution is to include standing, walking, stretching, and other forms of activity into your normal workday, and standing at your desk, for at least part of the day, is one of the easiest ways of doing so. Here are some of the benefits of using a stand-up desk at work.
What is a standing desk?
A standing desk, also known as a stand-up desk, is a desk that lets you stand up comfortably while working. There are manufactured versions of standing desks, and also those that workers have designed on their own. Various modern types are adjustable, so that you can change the height of the desk and interchange between sitting and standing. In all cases, the end goal is the same, to reduce the amount of time spent sitting during the workday.
Benefits of standing desks
Although research is still in early stages, it does appear that using a standing desk may have benefits for health.
Lowers the risk of obesity
Although exercise is the best way to burn calories rapidly, simply choosing to stand instead of sitting can also be helpful. Standing will burn more calories than sitting. Moreover, our bodies have an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), whose only job is to remove fat from our blood. But LPL becomes inactive when we sit down, so it can’t remove fat, which instead gets stored. Simply standing up at work will re-activate your inactive LPL, so it can get back to removing fat. A standing desk encourages you to stand at least some of the time. And once you’re standing, you tend to move about. Consistent movement throughout the workday, such as walking, is the key to reducing the risk of obesity.
Reduces cancer risk
A few studies have suggested that long periods of sitting can be linked to a higher risk of many forms of cancer, such as breast, colon, and endometrial cancer. The underlying mechanism by which sitting increases cancer risk is still unclear, but scientists have found a number of inflammatory biomarkers, such as C-reactive protein, that are found in higher levels in people who sit for long periods of time. These may be connected to the development of cancer.
Regulates blood sugar levels
Exercise and movement are important factors in fighting diabetes. Sitting for long periods of time reduces the body’s effectiveness in regulating levels of glucose in the blood, that greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Also, the more your blood sugar levels increase after meals, the worse it is for your health, especially for those with type 2 diabetes. By standing after meals, the body can more effectively process glucose, leading to better blood sugar levels.
Lowers the risk of heart diseases
The more time you spend sitting, the greater your risk of developing health problems related to cardiovascular diseases, such as chest pain and heart attacks. Prolonged sitting has also been linked to high blood pressure, increased plaque, and increased levels of “bad” cholesterol. It is so harmful that even an hour of intensive exercise may not make up for the negative effects of an entire day spent sitting. There is, therefore, no doubt that spending more time on your feet is beneficial for heart health.
Standing desks seem to have a positive influence on overall well-being. One study found that using standing desks can lower feelings of stress and fatigue, while improving mood and energy levels throughout the day. Another benefit of standing while working is an increase in your focus, alertness, and activity level. Hence working at a standing desk boosts productivity on a daily basis, and this productivity increases over time.
Improves posture and reduces pain
Back pain is probably the most common complaint of office workers who sit all day. The key reason behind this is that sitting is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, and arms, and also adds a huge amount pressure on the back muscles and spinal discs. Standing while working helps reduce lower back pain, as well as upper back, neck, and shoulder pain. Working at a standing desk also helps strengthen your core and back muscles leading to a better overall posture.
Helps you live a longer life
Studies have found a definite link between increased sitting time and early death. This is not surprising given the strong connection between long sitting times and health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Reducing sitting time can help encourage an active lifestyle, which in turn can help prevent premature death. And by combining standing with the benefits of exercise, one can possibly increase life expectancy even more.
Important standing desk considerations
- Start slowly: If you suddenly go from sitting all day to standing all day, you are at the risk of developing back, leg, or foot pain. It’s better to start with 30 to 60 minutes a day and slowly increasing it.
- Use a mat: A gel or anti-fatigue mat supports your feet and reduces pressure on your body. As a result, you’ll stand longer. Also, wear non-slip, cushioned shoes.
- Set it up right: Your computer screen should be 15 to 30 inches from your eyes, just above resting eye level. Keep your wrists even and your elbows at a 90-degree angle. If you feel like any part of your body is straining while you are standing, then make adjustments for more comfort.
- Do simple exercises throughout the day: Standing does burn more calories than sitting. But to actually see the best health benefits, you need to do other exercises throughout the workday, like walking, that stretch your muscles and keep your circulation and metabolism going.
- Health issues: If you have back, leg, knee pain or other health issues that might not work well with a standing desk, definitely consult your doctor. You don’t want to do something that might worsen your situation.