According to Dr. David Alter, a senior scientist at the University Health Network in Toronto, studies show that more than half of an average person's daily life is spent being sedentary and fixed – sitting, watching television, or working at a computer. This concern poses increased health risks on people to develop certain diseases and problems such as diabetes, heart complications, and possibly even cancer.
The Journal Annals of Internal Medicine published a study stating that people who sit for prolonged periods had a 24% higher chance of dying from health problems and complications compared to those who sat less frequently.
This instance is where standing desks enter the picture, presenting the apparent alternative to counteract the effects of a sedentary and fixed sitting position at work, which is to stand on your feet while working on elevated desks.
While you may have commonly heard the familiar phrase about how standing can help take better care of your health, it has almost always been just a banner statement. As such, it's time that we break these health benefits down and appreciate how it not only benefits our physical wellness but also improves other aspects of our well-being in the long run.
Several studies state that even if you exercise, there's a high chance that sitting all day would make you more prone to weight gain compared to when you use a standing desk. If you stand for an entire afternoon, for instance, you can burn over 170 additional calories than when you sit. Not only do you burn calories when you hold, but you also enhance your metabolism and avoid other complications associated with it.
Moreover, people who tried out using standing desks for the very first time reported losing around 8 to 15 pounds in a matter of 3 months. This loss in weight is possible through the work of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase which removes fat in the blood.
Apparently, during prolonged periods of sitting, this enzyme goes dormant and inactive in eliminating fats. It is when you stand up that this LPL reactivates and goes back to getting rid of fats in the blood.
Even then, there are already associations between sedentary work lifestyles and cardiovascular problems, with doctors reporting that people who sit most of the time are then to be twice as prone to cardiovascular diseases and complications compared to those who stand on their feet and are active.
Also, sitting for long periods also make a person around 125% more likely to experience chest pain or possibly even heart attack. Working on standing desks can spare you from this likelihood and usher you into a more active daily lifestyle.
Whenever you use your ergonomic standing desk, even just for part-time, your blood tends to flow better through your body. Improved blood circulation is the precursor of better heart health and nearly all the other health benefits associated with standing desks anchor on the healthy flow of the blood.
While workout can help with blood circulation, researchers say that even intense exercise cannot make up for the adverse effects of sitting all day at work; hence, the better option is to use standing desks.
In a study conducted in Australia, findings show that for every two hours of sitting time replaced with standing time every day, people could have lower triglyceride levels (fat in the body) and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels signal a lower likelihood of developing heart diseases and obesity. Thus, by using standing desks, people can have a better chance of reducing the toxicity in their bodies brought about by sedentary work lifestyles.
In a 2011 study conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they found out that reductions in time spent on sitting by workers engaged in sedentary jobs are directly related to the improvement in their back health and posture.
Standing relieves the back from the pressures and stress on the spine caused by the continuous sitting position, thereby making standing desk users three times more comfortable than workers who sit excessively.
Prolonged sitting not only causes damage to your lower back but also endangers your neck. When you get so fixated on your laptop or computer monitor, you tend to crane your neck into a "C" shape, which is very dangerous as it distorts your upper spine's form.
On the contrary, when you use standing desks, you tend to elongate your spine and revert to the healthy "S" shape. The natural ergonomic position of your neck is essential for you to avoid bone structure problems in the future.
The pains in the neck could very well trigger headaches too. Some studies proved that users of stand-up computer desks report less frequent and less intense pain in the head compared to those who sit in front of their computers all day long. As it is not easy to pinpoint exactly why this happens, there is an expectation that a better posture, combined with less neck and shoulder strain, could usually reduce risks of experiencing headaches.
Talking more about the spine, on the other hand, the harmful "C" shape not only causes damage and stress to your neck but also on your spinal discs. When you crouch on your seat, these spinal discs compress as well, usually in an uneven matter, thereby causing disc collagen to harden around the ligaments and tendons mostly in the upper back portion.
Using a standing desk helps you address this problem by promoting an even weight distribution on your spine to maintain the healthy "S" shape.
Do you think head, neck, spine, or back strains are the only pains resulting from slouching in a sitting position all day? Think again. Sitting in a slouched “C” position also compresses your rib cage, which houses your lungs. As such, lung capacity does decrease when you do not keep your sitting posture in check. On the flip side, standing on your desks elongates your lungs and relaxes your muscles for breathing. Better lung capacity translates to improved and healthier physical and mental function.
Not only is the elongation of the spine good for your internal health, but it is also good for your external appearance. As an office worker, it is essential to maintain a professional look and to power dress to be more credible, especially when your job involves having to communicate with different stakeholders.
As such, a good posture is vital for you to appear sharp, upright, and not sloppy. Standing on your desk provides you with this practice to always be conscious about straightening your back.
Aside from the respiratory system, the digestive tract is also affected by your sitting or standing positions. Your body compresses the digestive system when you sit, even if you do not tend to slouch.
As a result, the digestive abilities and the absorption of nutrients slow down as well. This problem could lead to other complications like heartburn, cramps, bloating, as well as other digestive system issues and intestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Conversely, using standing desks at work keeps your body in an upright position, thereby allowing your digestive system to function freely and accurately.
Contrary to popular belief that standing causes pain in the legs, office chairs do more harm by restricting blood flow in the lower body. There is a throbbing feeling at the back of the thighs because of this limitation in motion. On the contrary, standing on ergonomic desks allow for the free flow of the blood to the lower extremities, thereby relieving it from pain or numbness.
Also, through research, some scientists have concluded that because of the poor blood circulation in the legs caused by prolonged periods of sitting, swollen ankles could occur because the blood gets trapped at the lower part of the legs.
To boost blood circulation, standing on an ergonomic desk would be a better option to keep your legs healthy and free to move around.
Think of standing on your desk as a way to stretch and elongate your muscles, like what you do in yoga. Sitting for prolonged periods only causes your muscle groups to tighten and decrease its range of motion.
Even when you are still young, you get to feel old quickly as your muscle movement becomes restricted from prolonged sitting. This sensation is why the use of standing desks could help you with improving your body's overall flexibility.
Even your shoulders, which can add to the pain from poor posture from slouching your back, can also be made more flexible when you stand and keep your body's position upright. Standing up at work at an ergonomic desk with ease brings back your shoulders and muscle groups to equilibrium.
What is so scary about excessive sitting is that it does not only threaten to restrict your muscle’s range of motion, it also poses the risk of muscle degeneration. Studies tell that prolonged sitting causes muscles to shorten, and some even go dormant. Standing desks offer an efficient way to deal with these threats.
Not only are you able to work as effectively as before, but you are also able to improve your muscle strength and endurance by standing and stretching. It is through this that you can protect your muscles from breakdown and eventual degeneration.
While it does not seem much, you can never underestimate the effects of the movements and stretching you get from standing on your feet.
Here is some more good news for users of standing desks: not only does it delay muscle degeneration, but it also delays aging. When you continue sitting the whole day, the ends of your DNA strands called "telomeres" shorten whenever the cells divide.
Too short of a telomere means that eventually, they can no longer split; thus, the onset of aging, which is probably the reason why those who live a sedentary work lifestyle tend to feel older than they should be, and at a much faster rate. See how standing can help you? It can even act as a mini spring of youth.
When sitting, your abdominal muscles take a break and are relaxed. Worst is, they can sag and cause you to develop belly fats. On the contrary, when you stand, your core muscles are strengthened and toned, thereby giving you a core workout without even thinking about it.
You can improve this by doing additional movements and motions like twisting and stretching every once in a while. What an easy way to strengthen your core then while working on your standing desks.
In addition to your core muscles, the muscles of the lower back, buttocks, hips, and thigh also get strengthened and toned when you stand on your desk as you work through the day.
Though the effects of standing may not be visible immediately, it gives your muscles a natural exercise, thereby tightening them and improving their endurance. On the contrary, sitting all day long only lets these muscles soften and become loose, thereby enlarging them and causing unnecessary and unwanted flab.
Standing could be some form of weight-bearing exercise, which, according to researchers, can lead to an increase in bone growth and density. Among standers, studies have shown that people need to stand more than an hour in a day at work for it to have a considerable effect on bone density.
Moreover, standing proved to be even better than exercising in terms of raising calcium levels in the bones, thereby making them stronger.
Been thinking of joining marathons but haven’t found the time or motivation yet? Fret not! According to Doctor John Buckley, you can burn around 0.7 calories per minute when you stand compared to when you sit – which is equivalent to 30,000 calories in a year.
That is equivalent to running about ten marathons in the same year, except that no intense training is required because you stand at your desk each day. How good it be to complete a workout even as you do your daily job in the office.
A typical result of a sedentary lifestyle after meals is the buildup of sugar levels. By using a standing desk especially in the afternoon once you have already taken lunch, your body more efficiently and effectively processes glucose levels without much insulin.
This way, blood sugar levels will normalize, and you are in a better position to prevent complications associated with high blood sugar. Researchers recommend a minimum of 3 hours of standing at your ergonomic desk after meals, with some stretching and stepping, to see the most significant benefits.
Related to the lowering of blood sugar levels, the use of standing desks do help reduce the risk of developing forms of diabetes. In a study among office workers, harmful effects of sitting after meals manifest in the form of a 112% greater likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who take the time to stand on their desks.
This outcome is because of the overproduction of insulin by the pancreas, which in turn leads to resistance. Additional physical movements should counter this case to help with proper insulin production, so the risk of developing diabetes can also reduce when you stand compared to when you sit for the whole day.
You probably have not thought about this yet, but yes, whether you sit all day long or stand on your feet has a particular effect on your internal organs. Various studies prove that a decline in the amount of time a person spends sitting can lead to lower risk levels of having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
This way, standing desks can help from keeping your internal organs from slowing down. Even just 20 minutes worth of standing on your desk could maintain your liver function properly.
In a different study published in the American Journal of Kidney Disease, a lower risk of contracting chronic kidney diseases associated with less frequent sitting. Especially for women, who tended toward a significantly higher risk of having kidney problems, shifting to the use of standing desks at work could do great wonders. Standing allows your internal body organs to function correctly and in their right positions.
Prostatitis is the inflammation of the prostate gland, and the prostate gland is the male organ responsible for producing prostate fluid and is also one of the components of semen. This disease manifests itself during prolonged periods of sitting when the body is stationary.
While standing desks do not necessarily guarantee the elimination of the risk of contracting prostatitis, it nevertheless works to control the effects of the diseases and to keep it from worsening over time. The level of activity induced by standing causes a more active response in the body to counteract its diseases.
Aside from the possible risk of prostate cancer, prolonged sitting time can also heighten the risk for other types of cancer such as that of the colon and the breast, as well as endometrial cancer in women. The American Cancer Society continues to warn against sitting for long hours as these are related to heightening risks of contracting cancer for males and females alike.
As of recent research, the reason for this correlation or its causation remains unclear. However, one theory suggests that excessive insulin production, which is one of the effects of a highly sedentary work lifestyle, encourages malignant cell growth.
In another approach, the limited movement caused by long sitting hours suppresses the growth of natural antioxidants which battle free radicals.
Aside from the physical health benefits, standing desks also contribute to mental well-being. In one study, standing desk users said that they felt less stressed and tired from a day's work compared to those who sat all day. This situation would seem ironic as the normal tendency would be to think that sitting lets you rest and comfortably work, but scientific results show otherwise.
Having a standing desk in the office resulted in 87% feeling more comfortable with their work stations, while another 87% felt their energy rejuvenated, 75% thought that they were healthier, 71% felt a rise in concentration levels, 66% felt more productive at work, 62% felt happier than before, and 31% sensed that they were less stressed.
Worthy to note that the 87% of the standing desk users who report to experience heightened energy levels and enthusiasm through the day felt that upon sitting back again on their old desks, their mood started to revert to the previous low levels. At some point, researchers looked at the link between a sedentary work lifestyle and depression in workers.
As an added result of better blood circulation, increased brain activity also happens to people who prefer to work on standing desks than those who choose the sedentary way of life.
More oxygen in the brain results in sharper mind functioning and better focus. Also, when your brain functions properly and has an ample supply of oxygen, you can avoid mental fatigue even in the face of a hard day's work. It allows you to think quickly and make sound decisions too.
Those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder do experience difficulty and problems in sitting on one side of the room for prolonged periods. They also have short attention spans, which is where standing desks provide a considerable benefit.
Compared to sitting, standing offers a way for people with ADHD to channel their excess energies instead of containing them in one area. There would then be an increase in brain concentration and higher productivity as a result.
A study conducted by Washington University found that sitting on chairs during lengthy meetings tend to make people sluggish and territorial. Some even manage to daydream and get easily distracted with the comfort brought about by the chairs. Some also fall asleep during meetings.
On the contrary, standing during meetings has shown to stimulate employees mentally and to make them more alert even during a long session. It keeps the workers more invested in getting the job done. As such, a lot of modern office spaces have now been designed to facilitate non-sedentary work.
Consistent with the previous finding that sitting on chairs during conversations and brainstorming sessions can lead to lethargy among employees, standing provides a better alternative to release the creative juices among workers.
Studies have shown that using standing desks during these discussions contributes to heightened creativity among workers, triggers people's resourcefulness and ingenuity, and gives a chance for people to think outside the box. The artistic capabilities of employees get released in the process, making it ultimately beneficial for company's striving for innovation.
In research performed by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, confirmations show that standing up while working has an effect of increasing worker's productivity by almost 50%.
It is so primarily because of the health benefits associated with using standing desks such as better blood circulation, higher energy levels, lower risks of developing critical illnesses, etc.
With improved physical health and better mental states, workers are in the roll to perform excellently in their jobs, thereby translating to work efficiency and better performance.
Because of knowing that you are properly taking care of your body by avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, standing has some psychological effect that increases your self-confidence.
As it keeps you alert and enthusiastic through the day, it also adds a feeling of security knowing that you are prepared enough with what is coming before you. It makes you feel good about yourself and how you carry yourself in front of other people. It boosts not only your brain functioning and creativity but also your morale and outlook.
One study from the Columbia and Harvard University revealed that standers somehow felt more powerful and in control of their situations. As such, they were 45% more confident in making decisions.
Sitting on traditional cubicles with desk separators causes office workers to isolate themselves and sometimes even act as barriers for better communication. You need to awkwardly force your body in a direction or spot wherein your officemate can see you.
On the other hand, with standing desks, it is easier to move around and talk to other people, and it makes communication easy and encourages people to be sociable, to work in teams, and to be conscious of their teammates. It facilitates in creating physical networks among workers towards the same goal.
The World Health Organization showed reports revealing that sedentary death syndrome is potentially the third-leading cause of death around the world, next to heart illness and cancer. It is a continuous set of adverse health issues arising from prolonged levels of inactivity, mostly by sitting down for long periods.
Exercise is one natural cure for sedentary death syndrome, but standing is also one pivotal measure to prevent this illness, which is highly prevalent for office workers who spend most of their days sitting. For this reason, standing work tables do a big help to avoid serious health complications such as sedentary death
Probably the worst thing about a sedentary lifestyle is that it does not only cause death in itself, it also hastens the process. In various studies, discoveries show a strong link between long sitting hours and early death, primarily because of the early onset of critical illnesses such as diabetes and heart complications. There is an almost 50% higher chance for long sitters to die early as against those who stand on their ergonomic desks.
A study in the US found that if you reduce the time you spend sitting all day by at least 3 hours, you can increase your life expectancy by two years. That magnitude is indeed enormous! As such, there is a higher tendency for active standers to lengthen their lifespan compared to those who spend their time sitting all day.
Given the shift to standing desks, minimizing office and computer chairs would lead to the freeing up of more space allotted to other activities. It also makes the office environment less crowded and distracting.
The ambiance of the office plays a huge role too in terms of employee motivation and morale. With sleek, professional, clean, yet very friendly office spaces provided with standing desks, it is easier to usher in workers into productive and learning-filled experiences.
It is just so amazing how one act which seems very mundane to a lot of people or something that others would dread doing for long periods, can do various wonders in the human body. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and the hope that it brings considering that such health improvements can be achieved even while being productive and focused at work. These betterments in terms of health can surprise you with how it can impact your life in ways you never thought it could. It’s time we take a stand (literally).
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