Health Benefits with a Standing Desk
If you did not already know it, sitting is bad for your health. The bad thing about sitting all day – at work or school – is that no amount of exercise can undo the damage it causes. Just as running and eating healthy does not counteract a day of smoking and drinking, exercising in the evening does not make up for an entire day of sitting. Because of this, some offices have embraced standing desks, which allow you to be on your feet all day. What are the health benefits of using a standing desk?
- Reduced risk of obesity
According to research conducted by James Levine, an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic, a standing desk reduces the risk of obesity. He began by investigating why some people gain weight but others do not. A group of office workers was recruited to participate in this exercise; the participants were put on the same diet and asked not to change their exercise habits. However, some gained weight despite the identical exercise regimen and diet. Sensors that measure movement were stitched into their underwear to find out the secret behind this disparity: those who did not gain weight were constantly moving around for at least 2.25 hours per day.
It has been discovered that the enzyme that burns fat in the bodies shuts down when we sit. Therefore, standing will speed up your metabolism. On average, a standing worker burns 60 more calories per hour than a sitting one. Over time, this can cause significant weight loss.
- Reduced risk of heart disease
Studies that go back to the 1950s show that sitting is bad for the cardiovascular system. Back then, British researchers did a comparison between bus conductors, who sit and London bus drivers, who stand. The latter were found to experience more heart attacks than the former. Since then, scientists have also discovered that adults who sit for more than 2 hours a day have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems such as chest pain and heart attacks. For the above reasons, it is a good idea to invest in a standing desk, as it would encourage constant movement thus reducing risk of heart failure.
- Reduced risk of cancer
Some studies suggest that prolonged periods of sitting can be linked with many types of cancer. Lack of physical activity has been mostly linked to colon and breast cancer. According to a 2011 study, as many as 43,000 cases of colon cancer and 49,000 cases of breast cancer in the US are caused by sitting. The same study found that ovarian, prostate, endometrial, and lung cancer could also be related to excessive sitting. How sitting causes cancer is still unclear, but biomarkers tied to the development of cancer are higher in people who sit more.
- Lower mortality risk
Because of the reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, there is a correlation between the amount of time spent sitting and mortality rate. In 2010, an Australian study showed that for every hour participants spent sitting, their risk of dying during the 7-year study period went up by 11 percent. Such studies show that sitting leads to many health issues and increases the risk of death, even for those who try to eat healthy and exercise when not sedentary. Outside the office, many situations such as eating, watching TV, and driving require us to sit. To solve one of these problems, you need to get a standing desk for your office.
- Increased energy
The more time you spend on your feet during the day, the more active you will feel at the end of the day. This extra energy will enable you to take part in activities such as weight lifting, cycling, and running. Sitting all day, on the other hand, depletes your energy reserves, leaving you feeling too tired to do anything but sit or sleep when you get home. The key to keeping high energy levels throughout the day is alternating between sitting and standing. If you stand all day, your feet will feel sore at the end of the day.
When you switch from sitting to standing, your metabolism speeds up, burning more calories even when you sit. Therefore, you need to move from one workstation to another as you work to increase your energy levels.
- Less pain
Do you suffer from muscular pains and backaches? According to one study, 8 out of 10 people suffer from neck or back pain at one point in their lives. Being sedentary for prolonged periods does not help. When sitting, your lower back supports the top half of your body, putting a strain on the lumbar region of the spinal column. To relieve the stress on your lower back and lower the risk of spinal shrinkage, you should spend less time sitting. Change positions throughout the day to lessen strain on individual parts of the body such as the back, shoulders, and neck.
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
Excessive sitting, according to studies conducted by Levine, reduces the effectiveness of glucose regulation in the bloodstream – which often results in type 2 diabetes. In 2008, a study found that persons who sat for longer hours had increased levels of fasting blood glucose, meaning that their cells were less responsive to insulin. When a person sits, his/her cells become less responsive to insulin, causing the body to process it less efficiently. Another 2013 study showed that for people who are at risk of developing this type of diabetes, the amount of time they spend sitting matters more than time spent exercising.
If you are going to start using a standing desk, you should split your time between standing and sitting because staying on your feet all day can lead to knee and foot problems. The easiest way of accomplishing this is by using a tall chair that can be pulled to the desk when you need to sit or buying a desk that can be lifted upwards. Ease yourself into it; your body cannot go from sitting all day to doing the exact opposite. Let your body get used to the new position before increasing your standing time.