In the Earlier times, people used to do back-breaking work in the fields and industries. Now we work all day in front of a computer. Earlier, people had to walk long distances to have basic necessities like food and shelter. Today we have automobiles. Earlier, people used to go out a lot and socialize. Now we have the internet and TV, which we can binge watch sitting on our favorite couch.
Did you notice how our lifestyle has evolved over the years? In response to the fast paced development, we have given up the very essence of what our body is designed for- Movement. Today’s easy lifestyle has come at the cost of increasing illnesses like diabetes, blood pressure problems and even cancer.
A study claims that most humans today sit for more than 15 hours a day. When I started becoming aware of how much time I was logging in sitting the whole day, I immediately started looking for solutions. And that is when I stumbled upon standing desks.
The very thought of not having to sit through an eight hour workday made me feel excited. If you are the type of person who wonders what kind of a psycho would use a standing desk, then, you need to read this.
In the recent years, standing desks have exploded in popularity owing to increased awareness about various health disorders that follow as a result of today’s sedentary lifestyle.
Why sitting too much is bad for your health?
Research shows that People who have a sedentary lifestyle and sit for prolonged periods of time, face a higher risk of being exposed to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. Some studies link more sitting and less activity with an increased risk of developing dementia.
To make the matter worse, people who don’t move a lot, have a higher risk of dying from all causes. Prolonged sitting periods can cause damaging effects even on people who exercise regularly.
According to a study done by Cornell University, sitting continuously for more than 1 hour induces biochemical changes in the body which lead to deposition of fat in the adipose tissue. Due to lack of movement, our muscles fail to metabolize this fat, thus, leading to weight gain and eventually, obesity.
If you are not already familiar with the concept of non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), it refers to the energy expended, or the calories burnt when we indulge in activities that are not sleeping, eating or physical exercise. It is the lack of NEAT that leads to more weight gain. This is why standing helps with weight loss (though not considerably) as it increases our NEAT when compared to sitting and burns about 20% more calories.
Prolonged sitting is also known to be the cause of more than 30 diseases. The cause of these diseases can be attributed to lack of metabolic activity in the body due to lack of movement.
Other common effects of sitting too much are:
- Our Muscles burn less fat and blood flow becomes sluggish
- Sedentary lifestyle causes low insulin response by the cells in our body and causes an overload on the pancreas. This leads to diabetes
- Sitting disengages our abs, spine, hips and glutes, eventually leading to lesser mobility and posture problems
- Scientists link sitting to increased cases of osteoporosis and also swollen ankles due to fluid pooling in the legs.
Our bodies are just like machines. When not used for long, they deteriorate. Therefore, It’s important to keep them moving.
Considering the rise in problems associated with prolonged sitting, standing desks have gained a lot of attention in the recent years.
People who have embraced this new way of working, have experienced a myriad of physical and mental benefits, including weight loss.
Standing Desk Benefits
Standing keeps us alert. When we are standing, our heart has do more work to pump the blood, as opposed to sitting. This blood rush keeps us in a good working state and also helps burn more calories. Working on a standing desk will make you feel twice the energy as you go through the day when compared to a sitting work style.
Sitting and working for long hours can harm our back and ruin our posture. Standing gives us a natural posture that supports our spine and facilitates good core strength. Standing eliminates the slouching we do on our chairs when we are working and thus relieves problems caused by bad posture.
Positive, Productive State of Being
In a standing position, we are more likely to move. Sitting takes more willpower to get up and move out of that comfortable passive state. With a standing desk, you are more likely to walk around and move your body and thus, experience the health benefits associated with it.
While standing, we have laser sharp focus. I’ve noticed that standing makes me less prone to distractions. Do you find yourself binge watching YouTube when you’ve got work to do? Try working on a standing desk and see your productivity soar. Transitioning to this new work style will take your productivity to new heights.
Sitting passively drowns us emotionally. Standing helps us be in a state of mind conducive to working. With more focus and productivity, we feel better about ourselves. Standing also helps to avoid drowsiness, especially if you are working post lunch. As a bonus, standing helps bring back our sugar levels to normal after eating.
Log More Miles Walking Without Even Trying
Several studies have found that people who use standing desks in their workplace are more likely to move around and interact with others. It’s easy to do knee bends, stretch your hips and back and also take a walk around the office when you are standing. Any kind of movement or micro-movement you involve in, while working, will add value to your health and well being.
Lesser Risk of Obesity
Standing desk pioneer James Levine conducted a study on a group of people who were asked to consume additional amount of calories every day. He was surprised to note that only some people in the group considerably gained weight while the others did not. When he dived deep into the research to find the reason behind it, he noticed that people who didn’t gain weight sat less and moved more than those who did. We are speaking about a difference of more than 2 hours of sitting here. The study concluded that standing burns more calories than sitting.
Disadvantages of Standing
Standing has noteworthy benefits and can help us immensely provided it is not overdone. Standing for long hours continuously also has certain disadvantages, though not as serious as with sitting.
Standing long hours can cause soreness in your legs
There’s a limit to how long we can stand. If you find your legs getting sore and find yourself adopting bad postures just for the sake of standing, it’s better to find a place to sit. Just like how sitting long hours can strain your back and neck, standing long hours, also, can induce strain on your legs, core and body.
Inability to work long hours
Since standing long hours continuously induces strain on your body, it limits the number of hours you can work continuously. This might even distract you from the flow state and reduce productivity.
It takes time to get used to this new working position
It’s up to you to experiment the right working duration for yourself and fight through the initial soreness in your legs. If you’ve been using a sitting work position all the time, sudden transition to standing might harm your body.
Introduction to Sit-stand Desks
As its evident from our discussion above, neither sitting nor standing offers a solution to our sedentary lifestyle problems. You don’t have to stand the whole day to reap the expected benefits. What you need is a healthy combination of both. The key is to keep switching positions.
This brings us to the important question- What are sit-stand desks?
Sit stand desks are ergonomically well designed height adjustable desks that enable us to change our work positions at regular intervals.
Sit stand desks are sometimes commonly called standing desks. The reason we’ve particularly used the word sit-stand desk instead of standing desk is for you to understand the right reason behind using it.
The common meaning most people derive out of standing desks is that they are supposed to stand at all times. Standing is beneficial only when done in moderation. What you actually need is a height adjustable desk that allows you to change your position at regular intervals causing no harm to your body.
Your sit stand desk should also be ergonomically well designed for both standing as well as sitting work positions. Working on a sit stand desk that spoils your posture will only create more problems.
If you are feeling sore after sitting for too long, you can adjust the height of your desk and switch to a standing position. If you are experiencing back or neck related problems due to prolonged sitting, you can implement a higher stand to sit work ratio that is ideal for you.
How to Use Sit-stand Desks the Right Way
A product is only as good as its user. Its important that you understand how to use a sit-stand desk the right way to reap maximum benefits out of it.
Standing continuously for not more than an hour and for less than 4 hours a day is considered as safe. Reducing continuous standing time with regular short intervals of sitting is known to greatly benefit our health and productivity and reduces ergonomic risk.
Further, taking short breaks for every 30 mins or an hour for stretching and moving your body can further benefit your health, and productivity. This is regarded as the perfect combination for productive work.
Studies have found that breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with light or moderate movement or activity helps in reducing glucose and insulin levels in the body, also reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
So, Stand up, Sit-down, Stretch, Walk. Movement is key here. When you are working on your sit stand desk, it’s ideal to take a ‘movement’ break every 30 mins to get the blood circulating into your muscles.
You can take your experience to the next level by using good quality gel mat to avoid strain on your knees, hips and ankles.
You’ve now learnt a new, more enjoyable and productive way of working. When you can reduce your chances of type 2 diabetes, obesity, back pain, and even cancer with one simple lifestyle change, you must embrace it.
Sit stand desks come with a wide price range depending on how good they are. I’m loving my new standing desk (hoping that you now understand what the word actually means) and I’m yet to meet a person who doesn’t like it.
Standing desks are changing the way people work all over the world. The fact that Popular companies like Hubspot have been investing in sit stand desks for all their employees, stresses the importance of the subject we discussed here. Without wasting further time, buy a good sit stand desk and do yourself a favor.
If you liked the article, you might want to read it again, but on your new sit stand desk!