Are you like most office workers who spend at least 6-7 hours sitting each day? Then, chances are you might be reading this blog while perched in a chair. It’s time to look at the health benefits of standing desks and see if it could help you improve your wellbeing.
Sitting could be worse than smoking a cigarette
You might be surprised to know that an average person spends around 5 hours 41 minutes sitting each day.
Right from the time we wake up till the time we hit the sack, we are sitting all the time— in our cars stuck in traffic, in our office staring at our screens and even after work, binge-watching Netflix.
Sitting has become the default posture nowadays. For the sake of our wellbeing, we need to define another default posture for a healthy life – standing.
Standing desks are an increasingly popular way to start standing, without affecting our work.
Here are some health benefits of standing desks at your workplace:
1. Standing reduces the risk of heart disease
In the 1950s, British researchers compared the rate of heart disease among bus drivers and bus conductors in London.
In their findings, 42 percent more bus drivers experienced heart attacks compared to bus conductors.
The difference in their work? Bus drivers sit the whole day while bus conductors work mostly on their feet.
Another study conducted on 1,00,000 adults in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that people who sat for 6 hours or more died earlier than those who sat for 3 hours or less.
This was attributed mostly to cardiovascular disease in the participants who were more sedentary.
2. Standing lowers your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
A reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes is one of the health benefits of standing desks at work.
According to a study published in Diabetologia, people with a sedentary lifestyle have higher chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
It was associated with a 22 percent increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes, and a 39 percent increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
The silver lining?
Breaking up periods of prolonged sitting with short standing or walking stints can help you reduce your risk of developing this lifestyle disease.
And this is much easier to do when you have a standing desk around.
So if you are pre-diabetic or have a family history of the disease, being more active at work using a standing desk should be something you look at.
3. A standing desk could reduce your risk of musculoskeletal problems.
Long hours at a desk job is a common cause of back or neck pain.
Around 80 percent of office workers will experience some form of back or neck pain in their working lives.
This is where an ergonomically designed electric standing desk converter comes in handy.
In a comparative study on a group of workers in Australia, researchers compared the fatigue levels of those who used a stand-up desk converter every 30 minutes versus those who were seated only.
They found a significant reduction of 31.8 percent in lower back pain and a 22% reduction in overall tiredness in those who used a sit-stand desk.
If you experience neck or back pain, do speak to your doctor or physiotherapist to see whether a standing desk can help you alleviate your musculoskeletal problems.
4. Standing more reduces the risk of obesity
Fidgeting, shaking your foot and an inability to sit still could make you leaner and healthier. But how?
Dr James A Levine of the Mayo Clinic recruited a group of workers who engaged in routine exercise while following a specific diet.
He found that despite the standardized diet and exercise, some participants gained weight, and others did not.
Dr. Levine’s study found that obese people tend to fidget much less as compared to the leaner people. In fact, obese people spend at least 2 hours more each day sitting idle, compared to their leaner counterparts.
A fact that might astonish you is that fidgeting alone is enough to burn 350 extra calories per day, which adds up to an awe-inspiring weight loss of 4 to 13 kg per year!
One of the benefits of standing desks is that it is a good way to introduce more movement into your work day.
When you stand, you are naturally more likely to fidget or to move around your office. Try it and you’ll see!
5. Standing may reduce your risk of cancer
Some studies have found a higher risk of certain types of cancer for people who are inactive.
A survey conducted in 2011 by the American Institute of Cancer Research found that extended hours of sitting is responsible for 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 of colon cancer in the U.S. annually.
While the underlying reason for this correlation is unclear, the scientists found a higher number of C-reactive proteins (a type of biomarker) in people who sit for a longer durations. This is a factor in the development of cancer.
As Dr. Neville Owen of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute puts it-
“Sitting time is emerging as a strong candidate for being a cancer risk factor in its own right. It seems highly likely that the longer you sit, the higher your risk. This phenomenon is not dependent on body weight or how much exercise people do.”
So what solution do we have for office workers who have to sit as part of their jobs?
One thing is clear – sitting for too long is detrimental to our health. Most of us should take more regular breaks from our desk.
Step away to speak to your colleagues, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and perhaps try the much-vaunted standing meetings.
However, to make activity at work regular habit, we recommend that you look into using a standing desk or standing desk converter.
They are the easiest way to achieve the health benefits or more activity, without affecting your work.