A long period of sitting has been linked to many diseases and seen standing desks become more readily available. Standing desks have been known for many years, although they are becoming more popular as people realize the benefits a standing desk provides for the body. There are many different versions of a standing desk, from the office’s treadmill desk to the classic desk that can be moved to a standing one. This article will highlight the many benefits of standing and a standing desk on the human body.
What are Standing Desks?
Generally speaking, all standing desks follow the same basic principle. That is, they let you work while you stand. Although there are a few different types:
- Fixed-height desks stay at your standing height. You would not be able to transition from standing to sitting with this type of desk.
- Sit-stand desks go up and down so you can sit or stand whenever you feel like it. There are different variations of this kind of desk. The variations are based on how the transition from a sitting to a standing desk occurs. It can be a power sit-stand desk. These go up with the push of a button. You can also lift manually with a handle or raise them with a lever or crank.
- Treadmill desks take the idea a step further by letting you walk while you work. This allows you to get even more exercise while working.
What are the Effects of Sitting?
Many adults nowadays spend more than 7 hours a day sitting. Our sitting time increases to 10 hours or more as we age. This is hardly surprising when you consider our daily routines. The main concern with sitting for long periods is that our bodies are not engineered to be sitting in a static position all day. Long periods of sitting have a major impact on our health and wellbeing. Various studies have shown that people who sit for long periods at work and home are more susceptible to health problems. These health problems include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a shorter life expectancy. Sitting disease is when there is a combination of these symptoms.
Furthermore, the long-term effects of sitting cannot be fixed by exercise or diet. It can lead to long-term pain problems such as neck strains, herniated discs, muscle degeneration, and weakened bones. These are just some of the difficulties involved in sitting for too long. We can counteract all the sitting we do by installing a standing desk in a person’s workstation. Standing desks will help prevent all the health problems that come from sitting for too long and provide additional health benefits that go along aside it.
What are the Benefits of Standing?
Standing desks give people the unique ability to switch between standing and sitting postures. This can help reduce the physical stress your body endures. The London Spine Clinic even recommends using sit-stand desks as they have been devised in a way that makes working comfortable. It gives you the ability to vary your posture and combat the health risks associated with sitting too much.
Sit-stand desks will lead to much more significant health benefits than those who sit for an extensive period of time. It has been discovered that office workers spend 65% to 75% of their working hours sitting down. The majority of this takes place in prolonged periods of sustained sittings. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine compared those who sit the least and those who sit the most. The study found the group that sat more is more than twice as likely to develop type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and have a 13% and 17% increased risk of cancer incidence and mortality, respectively.
As mentioned earlier, standing requires more muscles, so it’s no surprise that you burn more calories while using a sit-stand desk due to increased blood flow. One of the benefits of standing is using around 13% more energy over the course of an eight-hour day. This accumulates to four hours standing, burning the equivalent to what you would if you went on a 45-minute walk.
Sit-stand desks don’t just have long term benefits, as they are also extremely beneficial in the short term for the body. Standing helps prevent a harmful build-up of sugars and fats in your blood. As a result, workers who stand more have better energy levels and concentration.
Back Pain Reduction
80% of adults will experience back pain over their lifetimes. And it is most common among office workers who are seated all day.
Many studies have explored the impact of using a standing desk on office workers with long-term back pain. The “Take-a-Stand Project” found that participants who spent an average of 66 minutes of their workday standing experienced a 54% reduction in the upper back and neck pain (R).
Lower the Risks of Heart Disease
Researchers have been studying the benefits of standing for more than 60 years. One of the earliest studies to be done, 1953, on bus conductors found that those who stood all day had half the risk of heart disease-related deaths compared to those who were seated (R).
Sixty years later, an evaluation of 18 studies with almost 800,000 participants came to the same conclusion. The findings were that a sedentary lifestyle had been linked to a 90% increase in the risk of cardiovascular mortality and a 147% increase in cardiovascular events as compared to an active lifestyle.
Lower the Risks of Obesity
We all know that weight gain is caused by consuming more calories than burning in a general sense. More than 44% of office workers say they have gained weight in their present job, and 53% of those said they believed it was due to sitting at a desk all day. What if you could burn calories while working with minor to no extra effort?
The act of standing instead of sitting helps one’s body reduce the risk of weight gain by burning about 50 extra calories an hour. If you were to stand for 3 hours each workday, you would be burning around 750 calories a week. Over the course of an entire year, that would equal about 30,000 extra calories burnt off, or about 8 lbs. of fat. In terms of activity levels, those 30,000 calories would be the equivalent of running ten marathons a year (R).
Lower the Risks of Type 2 Diabetes
Blood sugar levels increase after a meal as expected. However, when individuals constantly have large spikes in blood sugar they are at higher risk of becoming diabetic. Blood sugar increases have also been linked to a general sense of poor health.
In 2013, a small study of 10 office workers showed that standing for 185 minutes after lunch reduced the workers’ blood sugar levels by 43% compared to sitting for the same time period. The participants also wore pedometers, which were analyzed and found no significant physical movement changes between them. This indicates that the decrease in blood sugar levels was a function of standing vs. sitting.
Another study of 23 overweight office workers found that alternating between standing and sitting every 30 minutes reduced blood sugar spikes by an average of 11.1%. Diet and physical activity were monitored during the experimental period.
As shown by the above studies, you can reduce blood sugar spikes and your risk of diabetes just by using a standing desk. No extra effort is required.
Improve Mood and Gain Energy
Sitting and increased sedentary time have been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. It stands to reason then that standing would improve mood and increase happiness.
During the “Take-a-Stand Project,” a group of 24 office workers was provided with a standing desk. Participants self-reported improved mood states over the 4-week period where they reduced time spent sitting by an average of 66 minutes.
At the end of the 4-week intervention period, participants were asked a series of questions regarding the specific benefits of alternating between sitting and standing positions. Their responses were as follows:
- 87% felt energized
- 75% felt healthier
- 71% felt more focused
- 66% felt more productive
- 62% felt happier
- 33% felt less stressed due to having the sit-stand device installed at their workstations.
The use of sit-stand desks has been scientifically proven to improve your productivity, concentration, and increase your creativity. The reason for this is that while you’re standing, some of the body’s largest muscles are working, which increases blood flow to the brain. Therefore, it improves how we feel and enhances the way we work. It has also been found that sit-stand desks can increase productivity from up to 10-20%.
One common concern among those interested in a standing desk is completing daily tasks such as typing or answering phone calls. Working while standing may take some getting used to. However, there has been no negative impact daily activities for those using standing desks.
The boost in mood and energy and the reduction in joint and back pain improve productivity and mental alertness. When the body as a whole is in better shape, it functions more efficiently. It can be reasonably expected that, in turn, boosts productivity.
What are the Consequences of Standing?
Standing desks aren’t perfect, just like anything in life. If not used correctly, they can lead to severe consequences. In this section, I will briefly explain the few problems that can arise from a long period of standing and the usage of standing desks.
Leg and Foot Pain
Standing for long periods of time puts pressure on your knees, hips, and feet. This could lead to discomfort and aching in your legs. If you lift one foot to ease the stress, being off-balance could affect your posture.
Being on your feet for too long makes blood collect in your leg veins. The vein may stretch to fit the extra blood and get weaker. This leads to varicose veins. People who stand for more than 6 hours a day are two or three times more likely to need surgery for varicose veins than people who stand or walk for less than 4 hours a day.
Standing doesn’t Replace Exercise
You’ll only burn a few more calories standing, which is better than nothing. But walking more than doubles your calorie burn. Studies that compared the two showed treadmill desk users had much more significant improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels than standing desk users.
Standing desks aren’t ideal for every task as listed with the consequences above. Although you might perform some of your duties at work, other duties might become even harder to achieve while standing. It is recommended that the best use of a standing desk is to alternate between standing and sitting. That way, you receive the benefits but limit a standing desk’s consequences and repeat the cycle for the desired amount.
The Proper Way to Use a Standing Desk
In the beginning, get up for just 30 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Add an hour, then add two or more hours as you feel comfortable.
Another critical factor is the desk’s location in comparison with your body. The standing desk should be appropriately aligned with your body. Your head, neck, and spine should be in a straight line when you stand. Moreover, make sure your elbows form a 90-degree angle when your wrists are flat on the desk and your computer monitor at eye level. This will prevent you from straining your joints and eyes when working while standing. It is also recommended that you wear comfortable shoes with no heels or low heels. If wearing a small heel, it would be better to stand on a cushioned mat for more support.
Along with switching between standing and sitting every 30 minutes or so. You can also leave your desk and take a walk. Take a walk around your house or grab a drink from your kitchen to get some exercise and give your back a break. Even though you’re standing more, don’t forget to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five days a week, for even more weight loss and health benefits.
Standing with CareClinic
As our civilization has become a modern and information-based civilization, we’ve moved away from the industrial and farming societal work patterns. This has forced us to have a reduction in physical movement. Studies show a correlation between the lack of exercise over several generations and the drastic increase in potentially damaging health issues. This proves one simple but important fact: our bodies were made to move. CareClinic is a one-stop health app, providing several useful features to help you maintain a health record. Create a self-care action plan and add medications, supplements, diet, physical activities, and therapies you receive. You can even set your healthcare team who manages your health and add your physician, RN, and family members.
A common reason people sit for long periods is they forget to get up when they are in the middle of getting work or a task done. One-way CareClinic helps with forgetfulness is by having a reminder feature. This feature allows alerts you to stand while working for a few minutes to help minimize the risk of sitting all day. You can schedule multiple reminders throughout the day, making sure every couple of hours you are standing a few moments and helping you get all the benefits that come with standing.
The symptom tracker function lets you add symptoms you are experiencing. You can track the symptoms to understand the progress of your treatment. For example, you can track your pain symptoms from long periods of sitting down and see how they are improving after starting to stand up every few minutes. If you have any medical conditions, start tracking your symptoms before seeking medical attention and compare how well the therapy relieves you from symptoms after visiting the doctor’s office with the app.
Use this feature to track any activities you do. With this feature, you can follow the time you take to walk around between your work periods. You can also follow any of the exercises you have been performing to manage and alleviate neck and back pain. You can get an idea of which activities help reduce your back and neck pain and which do not.
Keep a record of any therapies you follow to get rid of your experience symptoms. You may be doing therapeutic exercises or seeking therapeutic treatments like massage. You can use CareClinic’s therapy feature to monitor your appointments and set reminders.
Reports are a great feature offered by CareClinic, can provide many perceptions into your lifestyle change. It considers your logs in diary, nutrition, activities, symptoms, etc., and subsequently generates reports that show the association between those entries. This association would be helpful to learn more about yourself. For example, you can look up and see how standing is positively impacting your blood sugar levels and weight reduction.
Recently, we have seen the positive effects of standing and working, which has led to a rise in standing desks. A standing desk may be something you may want to invest in, especially when working from home. Or if you are in the office, you can work with your employer to see if you can have a standing desk installed. There are many benefits involved with alternating between standing and sitting and you can try them out to see how they improve your health. Use CareClinic to help you track your standing and sitting patterns.