Modern lifestyles include long hours of sitting and our work lives permit completion of tasks while we spend eight hours or more at a desk.
Our bodies were made to be mobile and sitting can adversely affect our health. Constant long hours of sitting have known to cause serious posture problems, especially to spine.
There are various ways to avoid ill effects of long hours of sitting, some of them include – taking constants breaks, frequent stretching etc.
There is one more and extremely effective method, which not only helps with posture but also with issues related to weight, heart, etc. – Standing Desks.
Health Benefits of Using Standing Desks
The use of standing desks at work for a few hours in the day has several health benefits.
1. Lesser back problems
A well-known fact is that we are built to be mobile as opposed to sitting continuously for hours at a stretch at work.
Besides creating problems for your muscles and joints, you’re inviting chronic lower back problems by sitting at a work desk for prolonged periods.
It’s not just the state of being stationary on a chair that effects and stresses various parts of like the neck, shoulders, back, and arms.
It is the effects of sitting continuously that worsen when we don’t maintain proper postures conducive to health.
Research on a group of people in various age groups and body compositions established that switching to a standing position from being seated every 30 minutes had positive effects.
Overall fatigue levels decreased, productivity increased and interestingly back pain symptoms were reduced.
A significant 31.8% reduction was observed when sitting was alternated with standing in comparison to sitting for long periods.
2. Lesser neck problems
Factors such as the eye level and position of your desk, keyboard, and computer screen can collectively cause neck and back problems.
Besides sitting at a desk all day only encourages wrong postures such as a slump in the back and shoulders while your neck and head are lean forward.
Sitting for long hours also causes compression of our internal framework inhibiting the movement of fluids and functions of respiration.
Standing desks can reduce the strain on the upper back and neck and reduce upper back and neck pain by 54% and improved mood as suggested by research.
Standing desks can possibly help to lengthen and encourage the healthy curves in your spine, thus benefitting your neck.
Dr Nevin who started using a standing desk for neck problems reported, “I’m pleased to report that it appears to be better, and I feel more grounded and focused.
3. Help with weight reduction and obesity
Hours of sitting during the day can lead to weight gain and possible obesity in some people.
People who sit for 8 hours or more a day have 62% higher chance of obesity than those who sit for half the time.
Besides men in particular who sit for longer periods of time have higher body fat and larger waistlines regardless of fitness levels.
When we sit for longer periods of time especially in slumped positions we barely engage our abdominal muscles.
Besides causing misalignments in the spine, sitting weakens both abdominal and back muscles increasing fat stores in these areas.
Using standing desks could cause the heart to beat at an average of 10 beats per minute faster which could actually burn around 50 calories more per hour.
Standing for 3 hours a day 5 days a week could help you burn around 750 calories that could add up in conjunction with other health initiatives.
Standing or alternating between standing and sitting positions contributes to an increase in muscle activity that our body requires to keep fit and healthy.
These timely adjustments and movements can control blood sugar and in turn, help us lose weight.
A study also found that alternating between standing and sitting burned an extra 20.4 additional calories per hour. These findings suggest that using a standing desk at work could in fact cut calories help you lose weight.
4. Relief from symptoms of degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can affect the lower back or neck or any part of the spine.
Pain centres around the area that suffers from disc degeneration, for example, either in the neck or lower back but in severe cases may also travel to other parts of the body.
While bad posture coupled with other factors may sometimes cause degenerative disc disease, it is aggravated or worsened by prolonged seated positions.
Studies have also proven that that continued sitting of as little as four hours may influence an increase in pressures on the back and discs.
Graeme Keys suggests that an adaptable desk or a sit-stand desk that allows you to combine sitting and standing is more beneficial than standing or sitting continuously.
A set up with an adjustable standing desk to encourages intermittent standing and easy transition from sitting to standing and back should be considered.
5. Increase in efficiency
Sitting for long periods of time can have a long-term negative effect on health and wellbeing. It has been proven that the comfort that sitting offers lesser health benefits as compared to standing.
One study observed that groups of people who worked spaces that encouraged movement showed an increase in commitment and lesser groupism.
Furthermore, the results of the study suggested that conventional conference room setup of tables and chairs were less conducive to knowledge sharing as compared to clear open spaces.
The findings of another study suggest that standing desks may increase short-term task involvement without deterring performance and in turn possibly contribute to health and wellbeing.
In an experiment for New York magazine, Dan Kois used a standing desk for a month. He observed that besides losing weight, he wasted less time and got more work done.
Many also claim that besides improving performance standing desks can increase creativity. Besides an important aspect creativity can help businesses thrive and flourish, which makes a standing desk a beneficial addition to an office space.
Standing desks used in schools have been shown to improve behaviour and test scores while increasing the child’s involvement and attention. Standing desks used in call centres increased productivity by 45%.
While some people have reported a 10% increase in productivity others have said that they didn’t experience the post-lunch drop in energy.
One particular study reported that as many as 82% of people who experienced a decrease in joint pain and increase in performance preferred an adjustable standing desk.
6. Reduction in Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels
Research has proven a direct relationship between being sedentary by sitting for long hours at work or in front of a TV and higher fat stores, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
A study demonstrated that just an extra hour of being sedentary was connected to a significant 22% increase in type 2 diabetes.
Being active can not only help you lose weight but also help in delaying diabetes, controlling cholesterol and weight. This could also translate into reducing the number of sitting hours during the day at work.
When we sit for long the metabolic pathways that control blood sugar are slowed down which could be reversed if we use a standing desk at regular intervals.
Research has proven that in adults who substituted some sitting time withstanding intervals the average 24-hour glucose was lower than those who sat continuously.
Standing an extra two hours a day, possibly at a standing desk can lower average fasting blood sugar levels by 2 percent and lower average triglycerides in the blood by 11 percent.
It is then advisable to draw a connection to the possible benefits of using a standing desk for a few hours at work as opposed to sitting the whole time.
7. Reduction in cardiovascular disease
Being active has demonstrated a relation to better fitness levels and cardiovascular function. While low activity and sedentary lifestyles that include long hours of sitting are linked to poor heart function and low fitness levels.
A study from the American Heart Association has reported that those who spent lesser time being physically active and had more sitting or sedentary time were not only at a higher risk for chronic heart failure, but also coronary heart disease.
It is alarming to know that increased sedentary time was also linked to heart conditions in children.
In an experiment conducted by Experimental Physiology in 2015 it was observed that 3 hours of continuous sitting caused a 33% decrease in vascular system functions.
Prolonged sitting impacts storage of sugar and fat metabolism which in turn could lead to diabetes and heart disease.
While you can burn 30% more calories while standing which could contribute to weight loss and a myriad of other heart healthy benefits.
Besides people who sat for long hours had a higher risk of heart disease in spite of exercising on a regular basis. It is therefore advisable to use a standing desk every few hours for to keep the heart in top shape.
8. Reduction in the risk of cancer
Besides other cancer causes such as smoking and environmental factors, sitting and sedentary lifestyle are also contributing factors.
Research has found a connection between sitting and certain types of cancers. There was an 8% chance of colon cancer, 10% for endometrial cancer, 6% for lung cancer and the risk increased with every additional 2 hours of sitting time.
It also suggested regular exercise didn’t negate the detrimental effects of sitting. Moreover, this risk is increased in women who sit for longer periods of time.
In one study, women who sat more than 6 hours had a 10% greater chance for any cancer in general, a 10% higher chance of developing breast cancer while the risk was 65% higher for multiple myeloma and 43% more for ovarian cancer.
This risk lessened in women who sat less than 3 hours a day. The risk remained the same when other factors such as BMI and physical activity were altered.
This research seems to suggest that for both genders and more so for women using a standing desk for a few hours at during the day may in addition to other benefits reduce the risk of cancer.
9. Influence longevity
We spend most of our day sitting – at work, during the commute and during leisure time with limited movement.
A study done on older women demonstrated that sitting for long hours, irrespective of regular exercise could increase the chances of early death.
This includes sitting at work, for hours on the couch and surfing the internet could increase probabilities of dying from cancer, heart disease or cardiovascular problems.
Sitting for long periods has definite effects on causes of death such as cancer and cardiovascular disease that exercising cannot resolve.
The way sitting impacts mortality is through the development of type 2 diabetes and various cardiovascular problems.
Sitting causes us to shed fewer calories and cause less muscle activity than we would be standing. Besides causing obesity sitting could lead to other habits that exaggerate the condition and contribute to deadly diseases and health problems.
It is only apparent then that a standing desk could help mitigate the effects of sitting all day. Especially if you can’t accommodate exercise into your day it’s advisable to switch some hours with working at a standing desk.
Research has proven that as total sitting time increases, so does untimely death. Thus, a standing desk contributes to being active in some form and can decrease the chances of premature death.
10. A decrease in peripheral neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is damage or malfunction in the nervous system due to various reasons including sedentary behaviour.
As proven, prolonged hours of sitting can lead to diabetes and obesity which have a direct link to peripheral neuropathy.
Research has proven that we spend 50% to 70% of our time sitting and that is enough to lead to diabetes and heart problems. Nervous system complications are the most common symptoms of most diabetes and peripheral neuropathy is seen in 50% of diabetics.
Type 2 diabetes decreases the function of insulin which forms excess blood sugar to cause damage to your nerves.
While blood sugar can be controlled through diet, decreasing sitting time has a greater contribution to controlling sugar and symptoms of neuropathic symptoms.
Professor Stuart Biddle, of Loughborough University, is of the opinion that we must incorporate ways to reduce our sitting time, such as timely breaks between continuous computer use or by “placing our laptop on a filing cabinet”.
Besides standing meetings, walking during lunch breaks and reducing TV time can also help. Thus, creative versions of a standing desk should be attempted to reduce the ill effects of prolonged sitting.
11. Stronger bones and less muscle degeneration
Being physically active encourages the bones in the hips and lower body to grow and develop strength. However, hours of sitting affects posture, can lead to joint problems and osteoporosis.
Being sedentary causes inflammation in the joints and a lack of movement only worsens the problem.
Sitting for hours fails to engage the muscles, causing weakness and degeneration. Chronic sitters have tight hip flexors, tight back muscles, limp glutes and decreased range of movement.
Using a standing desk encourages small bouts of being active with definite benefits.
12. Improved digestion and lesser chances of haemorrhoids
Sitting for long hours increases postural problems, compressing and interfering with the digestive system’s ability to process food.
This can lead to indigestion, bloating and intestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome. As sitting for prolonged periods of time causes obesity and related problems it can also cause haemorrhoids.
Standing desks prove to be an investment that can prevent occupational hazards and deliver health benefits.
13. Delay in the ageing process
A sedentary lifestyle which includes long hours of sitting decreases health and fitness and speeds up the ageing process.
Research has proven that sitting for lesser hours can lengthen telomeres associated with ageing and positive changes were seen in cardiovascular risk factors.
Standing or using a standing desk at work can prove to be less hazardous than sitting. Furthermore, it can delay the ageing process and decrease mortality rates.
14. Support emotional health
Sitting for long can have negative impacts on posture and as research has proven can affect feelings of confidence.
Research has proven that standing positions not only contributes to confidence but encourages better decision making. Standing does not only increase energy levels but increases endorphins and feel good hormones.
Standing also decreases cortisol and increases serotonin and dopamine thus decreasing stress levels.
Standing desks can through the effects of these chemicals increase motivation, productivity, feelings of trust and form connections and bonds.
15. Add to the effects of working out
As seen above sitting for long hours can, in fact, contradict the effects of any exercise routine.
Standing at a desk can help you burn around 144 calories a day than sitting.
Using a standing desk delivers health benefits, helps you burn calories and compliments the effects of working out later in the day. A standing desk can thus contribute to achieving fitness goals.
A standing desk can provide several benefits to your health including weight loss, better digestion, healthy heart, etc. Working with standing desk combined with sitting can prove to be a great combination for people working for long hours.
So, what are you waiting for, check out your ideal standing desk today!
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