In an age where a large part of the population have desk-based office jobs, it is no surprise that sitting has been dubbed “the new smoking”.
Maybe it’s time to switch to standing desks.
A number of studies have highlighted that a sendentary lifestyle substantially increases the risk of premature death.
One recent paper from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that this was a particular problem for mature women.
Another study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the habits of nearly 8,000 adults and found that the amount of time participants spent sitting was directly correlated with their risk of early death.
As these studies into the negative effects that prolonged sitting (and modern comforts) are having on our health and longevity gain greater credence and exposure, standing desks have grown in in popularity.
Pre-Covid, standing desks were invading the workplace with a rapid pace and post-Covid, this popularity has extended to the home office as the work-from-home revolution gathers pace.
Here are four top benefits of switching over to a standing desk.
1. Burn more calories
Just by standing up at your desk to work you can burn more calories. The same sedentary computer work undertaken standing up as compared to sitting down will burn over 170 additional calories.
If you can combine this with a walk or stretching session on your lunch break you are well on track for improving your health, fitness and wellness with relatively little effort.
It is recommended that you start off with 20 minute intervals of sitting and standing to allow your body to adjust. Ensure that you select an adjustable sitting to standing desk, and set an alarm at 20 minute intervals to remind you to stand up or sit down.
2. Minimise lower back and neck pain
Long periods spent sitting on your hind quarters is one of the main reasons we suffer from back and neck pain. Poor posture has much to do with this.
Switching to a standing desk can provide relief for sufferers as it encourages better posture. Users generally become more aware of their posture when standing, rather than slumping and hunching forward over a computer in the sitting position.
Chronic back pain caused by prolonged sitting has been dubbed a ‘silent epidemic’ and a number of studies highlight that standing desks can help considerably. It should be noted that getting the correct ergonomic setup of your new standing desk is very important. Take the time to read the instructions and review the literature.
3. Decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is an aggregation of conditions triggered by lifestyle – elevated blood pressure, increased blood sugar, extra body fat around the middle, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels -that occur together and increases the risk of strokes, diabetes and heart disease.
If you’d like to learn about blood sugar and the glycemic index, you can read more here.
Stating the obvious, but it’s best to avoid these, if at all possible.
Studies show just how harmful sitting is on our cardiovascular health. It is so detrimental that even a session of heart-pumping exercise may not make up for the negative effects of an entire day spent in the sitting position.
If reading this isn’t reason enough to go straight to your HR representative and request a standing desk, then I don’t know what is!
4. Increase energy levels, minimise stress levels… and avoid the 3pm slump!
Standing up at your work station means that you are moving more, which equals less chance of that 3pm energy slump.
Our bodies need to move on a regular basis, so introducing periods of standing will naturally increase energy levels and maintain a general sense of well being with decreased levels of stress…and prevent us from reaching for the chocolate pick me up.
One study found that nearly nine out ten employees reported improved energy and vigour when standing desks were introduced into the office.
Moving to a standing desk will come at an expense, unfortunately. If your employer believes in the big benefits for a small lifestyle change then they may well be persuaded to undertake installing standing desks as part of an office upgrade. The health benefits are undeniable.
And if you work from home, then talk to your accountant about the possibility of a tax deduction for your new standing desk.