Friday, August 2, 2013

Why Use A Standing Desk? Part 1: The Bad News About Too Much Sitting



Yes, this is your average desk chair.  Now you might be thinking that you have worse enemies than your desk chair, perhaps real people who are living and breathing and enjoy making you miserable.  I am here to tell you that you are wrong.  You are wrong because your desk chair is indeed your absolute worst enemy.

But how, you might ask, can an inanimate object like a desk chair possibly be considered my worst enemy??

Well, for starters, let me just tell you that your body was not designed to spend 45 hours a week sitting still in a chair.  Sitting is one of the most passive things you can do, and your body benefits most when you are active, not passive.  The human body needs movement in order to stay awake, energized, and healthy.  And unfortunately, by movement, I do not mean simply hitting the gym once a day for an hour.  As healthy and athletic as that may sound, that just won’t cut it.  Your body needs frequent movement throughout your day in order to function properly, and that includes during the 8 or 9 hours you spend each day at work.

Now you might think that this is all irrelevant to you because you have this super fancy ergonomic desk chair in your office that your body melts into every time you take a seat.  Wrong again.  Even in a customized ergonomic chair that was designed specifically for your height and weight, prolonged sitting is incredibly bad for you.  Not to mention, no matter how comfortable your chair may be, it’s pretty hard not to slouch when you’re in a sitting position. 

Now your next question might be something like… How can too much sitting really be that bad for me though?!

Let’s start with slouching.  Sitting for too long can result in the assumption of awkward and harmful postures, such as slouching, hunching over, twisting, and straining, which can all lead to leg cramps, stiff muscles and joints, back pain, headaches, and fatigue.  Slouching is a passive activity that results in an unhealthy curving of your back, slumping forward of your shoulders, and closing of your chest.  The curving and slumping forward position can result in a straining of both your back and your shoulders, while the closing of your chest will result in shallow breathing.  Sitting for hours on end almost always results in slouching, which can cause you to feel drowsy and lethargic, two feelings that will certainly not help your level of productivity.  Further, in the long run, it is these awkward postures, which have been shown to contribute to musculoskeletal disorders.  And unfortunately that’s not all.

The key problem with too much sitting is that you’re not using as much energy as those who are spending more time on their feet. Because of this, it becomes easier for you to gain weight, and you ultimately become more prone to all of the health problems that are associated with weight gain. 

In order to measure the effects of too much sitting on your metabolism, a study was performed on men who normally walk a lot.  These men were asked to significantly cut back on their walking for two weeks.  Once the two weeks were over, it was determined that as the men had decreased their walking, the ability of each man to metabolize sugars and fats had worsened, and each man had become noticeably fatter around his middle section. Therefore, this study shows that when you spend less time on your feet, a crucial part of your metabolism slows down. 

Additional research has recently shown that sitting for long periods of time has many other significant health risks, even for people who eat right and exercise outside of work.  This means that it doesn’t matter if you go for a run every morning before work or if you’re a regular at the local gym.  Regardless of your daily exercise regimen, if you spend most of the rest of your day sitting – whether it’s in your car, at your desk, or on your couch – you are at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, several cancers, and an early death.  More specifically, some statistics have estimated that people who work in environments that require them to sit for prolonged periods of time are 125% more likely to develop heart disease.  Even further, WebMD has reported that these same people are twice as likely to develop diabetes. 

Have you heard enough yet?  Are you convinced to stop sitting for uninterrupted periods of time???

The plus side to all of these awful facts is that too much sitting is a modifiable lifestyle factor.  In other words, fortunately, prolonged sitting is something that can be changed.  So, with that said, I urge you to keep an eye out for our next post in which we will discuss the good news about standing!!

For more information about how to put an end to prolonged sitting in the workplace, check out the all new Sit Stand system by Ergotech Group at http://ergotechgroup.com/height-adjustable-systems.html

Written by Julia Cavaliere – Ergotech Group, INC.
July 29, 2013