Standing desks gained popularity in the last five years as mounting research seeks to prove the hazardous effects of prolonged sitting.
Standing desks are thus not just part of a fad but a solution based on solid research.
Overview on Standing Desks
Most people use standing desks as they feel it helps get more work completed and some have also experienced an increase in creativity.
We burn more calories standing than sitting and over the work week, time spent at a standing desk could contribute to concrete weight loss.
In a study circulated by the Journal of physical activity and health, the energy expenditure of a group of people was studied during standing, sitting and walking.
The calorie expenditure of these healthy people was studied while they did desk work, watched TV, stood, or walked on a treadmill.
The results of the study suggest that using a standing desk can help burn more calories than sitting.
Besides using a standing desk after lunchtime has proven to be beneficial is reducing spiked blood sugar levels and facilitating digestion.
Sitting for 9 hours or more at work at home has proven to cause ill effects irrespective of whether you engage in vigorous exercise at the gym. Risks and problems associated with prolonged sitting are the same for the obese and athletes alike.
Now Let’s discuss when using standing desks prove to be better and in which cases sitting desks are recommended.
When to use a Standing Desk?
Standing desks seem to be advantageous as proven by research on the benefits of standing and various self-experiments. Based on these accounts a standing desk can be opted to experience what it can offer.
1. To increase productivity and feel more energized
Based on research and anecdotal advice, people have observed an increase in productivity when they used standing desks.
Moreover, the midday slump in energy was lessened and it improved energy levels. For some people, a 10% increase in productivity has proven beneficial while others noticed that they didn’t experience the post-lunch sluggishness.
According to one study, when offices were set up to be more movement friendly, employees demonstrated more responsibility and mixed around more with various departments.
This study also suggested that an outdated conference room style set up hindered sharing of information and knowledge.
This seems to suggest that additions to a standing desk or a more novel office environment would benefit input and productivity from employees through information sharing and teamwork.
The findings of another study suggest that standing desks may increase task involvement without deterring performance and in turn possibly contribute to health and wellbeing.
One particular study suggested that besides contributing to health, the use of standing desks may improve performance and influence employee engagement positively.
Many people have experimented with standing desks and observed benefits.
According to the observations of one such investigation time was used more efficiently and it also helped in weight loss. Adjustable standing desks have been a preference for people who experienced a surge in productivity and lesser aches and pains.
Creativity is an integral part of many jobs also seemed to improve when standing desks were part of an office environment. Claims suggest that these desks have helped in getting more work done with a definite increase in creativity.
Standing desks are not limited to the workspace and can be used in schools. In the classroom, these desks have shown to had a positive impact on student behaviour, while improving interaction, attention and test scores. The call centre world noticed a 45% progress in output after using standing desks.
Based on research and observations reported, when an increase in productivity and efficiency is needed, standing desks can add to novelty and contribute to performance.
Sitting for long periods of time can have some detrimental effects on health and wellbeing. While sitting provides for ease and relaxation, it delivers fewer health benefits than standing.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) for example is a painful situation that affects the lower back or neck or any part of the spine but also travels to other parts of the body. Bad posture is known to be a culprit in causing degenerative disc disease.
Both bad posture and disc degeneration are intensified by prolonged sitting.
Research has suggested that degenerative discs can be caused by a sitting time of fewer than five hours.
To combat the effects of this problem it would then be advisable to use a standing desk for a certain amount of time at work. Office spaces can use adjustable standing desks so that employees can choose to sit and stand whenever they please.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can increase around 20% from an extra hour of sitting as proven by research.
Sitting for long has a is causative factor in high-fat stores, diabetes and high cholesterol problems. After a continued 2 hours of sitting good cholesterol drops by 20%.
Using a standing desk at work decreases sedentary behaviour which then helps with weight loss and prevention of diabetes and cholesterol problems.
In adults with less sitting time, their overall daily glucose levels were lower than those who had more sitting time.
To reverse the effects and symptoms of diabetes and lower average triglycerides in the blood by, we could switch sitting with some standing time.
Poor Cardiovascular function
The poor cardiovascular function is always linked to poor fitness, low activity levels and prolonged sitting time. Studies have also shown that heart problems and disease are exacerbated by longer sitting hours and a sedentary lifestyle.
Diabetes, obesity caused by prolonged sitting are factors that further cause complications with the heart. A standing desk can help in burning and reducing calories which can then lead to better fitness and a better functioning cardiovascular system.
It is could also be extremely beneficial to use standing desks in schools as research has proven that longer sitting time is also linked to heart and cardiovascular problems in children.
Peripheral neuropathyPeripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves possibly brought on by diabetes and obesity caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Nervous system problems are often seen as a symptom of diabetes brought on by a sedentary lifestyle.
By being more active and decreasing sitting time we can control blood sugar, diabetes and consequent neurological symptoms.
Standing desks should be adopted in such situations to deal with the effects of diabetes and excessive blood sugar. We could use adaptations of a standing desk, in case of unavailability to reduce the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.
3. For women in particular to decrease the risk of cancer
It is important for women to use standing desks as they are more at a risk of developing multiple myeloma, breast and ovarian cancers from long hours of sitting.
The high incidence of developing cancer still remains even if exercise was regular.
However, according to research, there is a chance of decreasing this risk when sitting hours are decreased.
4. To delay ageing and live longer healthier lives
Modern day living and work-related activities demand for long hours of sitting. The long hours we spend sitting makes us face with unhealthy consequences.
These detrimental outcomes are experienced more by women as they develop cancer and other diseases or experience untimely death caused by sedentary lifestyles.
A study demonstrated that people who sit for many had a lesser capacity to metabolize fat and sugar than those who took time out to stand stretch or walk around the office had smaller waists and were healthier.
Besides, when we sit for long periods at a stretch we don’t expend much energy in comparison to when we are on our feet. This causes complications relates to weight gain and other problems that shorten lifespan.
Lipoprotein lipase is a molecule found in the heart, tissues and muscles that helps process fats. Sedentary time decreases its supply as proven by studies which then causes diseases that can hinder the quality of life.
Men who spent around 6 hours of their time sitting had an 20% higher chance of dying than men who spent their time being active and standing most of the time, according to one study.
A study has also suggested that we break up sedentary time with standing or moderate physical activity. It was observed that a lack of movement is directly linked to obesity, abnormal glucose levels and metabolic problems.
5. To complement your workout regime
We spend around 8 hours sleeping while the way we spend our time during the 15 waking hours is important for healthy functioning.
If we spend around 45 minutes of our time exercising and for 95% of waking hours we spend sitting during a commute, at work, during the day, for dinner and then in front of the TV, we can’t label ourselves as physically active.
Numerous studies have testified for the adverse effects of sitting despite regular exercise.
Too much sitting time is directly related to poor cardiometabolic factors even if exercise were part of a daily regime.
We lose an almost negligible 1 calorie per minute when we spend time sitting and enzymes in the blood the help us burn fat drop drastically.
Prolonged sitting time increases the chances of colon cancer by 8%, 10% and 6% for endometrial cancer and lung cancer respectively. However, these risks seemed to grow with only 2 hours of prolonged sitting time.
For older women, in particular, sitting time can have negative health repercussions.
Research has shown that women 45 years and older who spent most of their time sitting, increased their chances of premature death, in spite of a seemingly healthy lifestyle. For women in this age group sitting time is directly connected to diseases of the heart, cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Since studies have proven sitting for long hours, in particular, can reverse any positive effects of exercise routine, we must consciously work to change this habit.
Standing at a desk can help you shed roughly 150 calories. Using a standing desk can help prevent many diseases, help you stay fit and supplements the efforts put into exercising.
6. For better posture and more muscle activation
While we spend most of our day sitting and especially while on the couch and in front of the TV, we adopt incorrect or bad postures that are detrimental to health.
These postures affect our neck, shoulders and back with a myriad of health problems.
The use of a standing desk with correct ergonomic layouts may help us reverse bad posture and problems that it brings with it.
Besides when we sit, the muscles in our body are rendered inactive causing them to turn weak and squishy.
When we sit for prolonged periods, leg muscles that work while we stand effectively take a back seat. It is these muscles that are responsible for the removal of harmful lipo-proteins from the blood. The inactivity of sitting thus causes us to store poisonous elements that our body doesn’t need.
When to use a Sitting Desk?
Since it is best to be practice everything in moderation; certain situations would warrant the use of a sitting desk.
1. When standing gets tiring
Numerous self-reported accounts of the use of a standing desk have confirmed that prolonged hours of standing can, in fact, exhaust you before the end of the workday.
Sitting can make you lethargic especially after lunch and while standing desks have proven to increase productivity, they might not be that helpful after all.
Standing desks can tire you out to the extent of reducing reaction time and thus decrease productivity. It does cause discomfort and people have reported the emergence of new aches and pains and lower limb swelling. Standing desks can be exhausting for a successive day of work.
The threshold time for the body to experience symptoms of fatigue is 5 hours as proven by research.
The muscles of the body start to ache and demand rest in the form of sitting. To prevent over exhaustion gives us reason to use sitting desks in between standing.
If we feel weak or drained and haven’t recovered from the previous day of work, sitting may help us rest and recover. Besides on the days we go to work despite not feeling completely fit, sitting desks could help us pull through and complete work.
2. In case of varicose veins
Standing desks can be a hazard in the case of people who suffer from varicose veins or can increase your chance of developing the problem of these unsightly bulges on your legs.
Standing for long periods of time puts pressure on the valves in the legs. This causes the valves to malfunction, while blood pools and pressure increases. The veins then turn weak and bulgy into varicose veins.
A 12-year study has demonstrated that prolonged standing increased chances of developing varicose veins and possible hospitalization in working-class groups.
To prevent further worsening of this problem, it is advisable to use a sitting desk for a certain number of hours or switch between standing and sitting time during the day.
3. In case of excessive back pain
Standing would not be conducive to any kind of pain as it uses more energy that could lower a person’s pain tolerance level.
This would definitely affect productivity and performance at work. Back pain is also usually more evident when a person is standing than sitting.
Standing is not advisable in case of chronic back pain that also cause numbness in the legs and this pain could worsen with prolonged standing.
People with problems such as lumbar spinal stenosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis that cause back pain that moves to the legs should not use standing desks.
People with isthmic spondylolisthesis experience pain due to a small stress fracture in the back. This pain is worsened on standing and hence a standing desk may only worsen the condition.
While sitting for long periods of time in case of degenerative disc disease may not be helpful, standing for long can also worsen symptoms. It is then advisable to combine standing and sitting time to deal with the pain.
Depending on the type of situation, a combination of standing and sitting time is ideal in case of back problems. However, severe pain situations would benefit from rest and the use of a sitting desk until the problem is solved.
4. If you have other medical complications
Standing may not ideal for people who suffer from various health problems. Research has proven that standing for long can lead to certain cardiovascular disorders.
Standing can worsen the condition of carotid stenosis involving the carotid arteries that transport blood from the heart to the brain.
Standing for long causes blood to collect in the legs which causes a host of circulatory problems.
Besides men in men with carotid stenosis or ischemic heart disease, the chance of development of atherosclerosis was higher. It is then recommended to reduce standing time to prevent further health complication.
There is no doubt that standing desks offer numerous benefits for both health and efficiency. However, they may not be best in all cases and for all people. Also, it would take time to adjust to a standing desk as it does with anything new that is introduced.
However, it seems best to combine standing and sitting time coupled with exercise and a healthy diet to stay fit.
This can be simply achieved by having adjustable desks which can be transformed into a sitting of standing desk based on the requirement.
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