It’s being said sitting is the modern health equivalent of smoking and more people are spending longer hours sitting in front of their office computers. Are standing desks the solution to rising rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity?
Sitting around is something we get plenty of practice at. Reading and writing and creating on a computer makes for big chunks of sedentary time. If you’re reading this post right now, are you sitting down? How long have you been sitting?
Scientific Studies Say Standing is Better
Several studies conducted over the past decade suggest sitting can lead to more disability as we age, doubles the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and possibly shorten our lifespan. After observing more than 92,000 women, Harvard researchers found that the more time participants spent sitting at work, driving, or watching TV, their risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or strokes increased.
A study of nearly 17,000 Canadian adults, in the May 2009 issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise , found that those who reported the most time standing had a 33 percent lower risk of dying from any cause over 12 years compared to those who stood the least. The Harvard researchers, on the other hand, found in their study that regular exercise didn’t erase the increased death risk. Some obesity experts argue that standing at a workstation encourages us to move around more and burn significantly more calories.
In a small study, 28 office workers were given a sit/stand desk for a month and reduced their time spent in a sedentary position by 38 minutes a day compared to when they used a traditional desk. Also reported were mood boosts, increased energy, and reduced fatigue.
Sitting too much can be unhealthy
When you’re sitting, you’re usually fairly still, and it’s the lack of movement that causes problems over time. Sitting impedes proper circulation and can also lead to reduced mobility, flexibility, and even muscle loss. When you consider that office workers sit for most of their 8-hour workday, then sit in a car, bus, or train for a commute—and then sit in the evenings while browsing the internet or watching television, that adds up to a lot of sedentary hours each day.
The Mayo Clinic indicates that those who sit for four hours a day or more increase the risk of a cardiovascular event like chest pain or heart attack by about 125 percent. And the Center for Disease Control says that one in every four deaths in the United States is related to heart disease. They estimate that adds up to about 610,000 people every year.
As a result of recent scientific studies, ergonomic standing desks are becoming more common in the workplace. These studies suggest that using a height adjustable standing desk can help reduce health risks like cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Why use a standing desk?
Here are seven health benefits of using a standing desk:
- Reduced risk of obesity. People who stand more walk around more. And people who walk around more burn more calories.
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Sitting all day seems to be related to reducing the body’s effectiveness in regulating blood sugar known as metabolic syndrome, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
- Reduced risk of heart disease. A recent Kaiser Permanente study suggested that men who spent at least five hours a day sitting had twice the risk of heart failure when compared to those who sit less than two hours a day and exercise often.
- Reduced risk of cancer. Some studies have suggested that extended sitting may be linked to certain cancers, particularly breast and colon cancer.
- Lower early mortality risk. A 2012 study found that when people reduced their sitting time to only two or three hours a day, their life expectancy increased.
- Standing desks appear to reduce back pain, which is one of the most common complaints of office workers who sit all day. Several studies show that standing desks can dramatically decrease chronic back pain caused by prolonged sitting.
- Standing desks help improve mood and energy levels. One study found that standing desks can lower feelings of stress and fatigue, which in turn, is likely to boost productivity.
Statistics like that are a pretty convincing statistic to rise up and get moving! Most of us don’t get enough exercise during the day, and physical activity is key to helping keep yourself healthy. One way you can start incorporating more movement into your day is by using an electric standing desk. With an electric sit/stand desk, you won’t have to lift or crank to adjust the height of the desk surface, and you’ll be able to use the same desk while you’re sitting or standing.
Ease into it to make a habit
But you don’t have to try to stand up while you work all day; instead, try switching between sitting and standing while working. Use your height adjustable standing desk to slowly begin increasing the time you spend standing while working to increase your standing time. Splitting your day into half sitting and half standing is a good goal, but that doesn’t mean you have to stand for 4 hours before you can sit for 4 hours—you can switch between standing and sitting as often as you need to.
An adjustable height standing desk can help you move more, improve your posture, and help prevent disease. That’s a pretty compelling reason to give standing while working a try.