Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why Use A Standing Desk? Part 2: The Good News About Standing

In our last post, we discussed the health hazards and risks that are associated with too much sitting.  We emphasized how these risks unfortunately apply to everyone, no matter how healthy and active you are outside of work.  In other words, even the health of those who exercise regularly can be negatively affected by too much uninterrupted sitting.  We also mentioned at the end of our last post that too much sitting can be considered a modifiable lifestyle factor.  This means that, in order to protect our health, safety, productivity, and level of comfort in the workplace, too much sitting is something in our lives that we can and should change. And this brings us to our latest topic: the good news about standing.

A study was performed on people who sit for many hours at a time, and the results showed that those who took short but frequent breaks from sitting had smaller waists and better metabolism of sugars and fats than those who sat for long, uninterrupted periods of time.  Now, these people who took many short breaks from sitting throughout the day were not using these breaks to run laps around their office building.  They were simply standing up, stretching, changing their body position, getting their blood flowing, and sometimes walking down the hall.  And that was all it took to be healthier than the others.

Relatively speaking, compared to sitting, standing is hard work.  Standing requires you to tense your leg muscles, engage your back and shoulder muscles, and even shift your weight from one leg to the other from time to time.  All of this burns calories!!

Now you may be rolling your eyes and thinking…

Just go to the gym and run if you really want to burn calories!

… But I’m not suggesting standing as an alternative for regular exercise. Rather, I’m suggesting standing as an alternative position to sitting in the workplace. Let me explain…

You may not realize it, but standing requires you to actively contract many of the muscles in your body.  Consequently, in comparison with a sitting position in which most of your muscles are relaxed, standing results in higher calorie burn and better posture.  In addition, the contraction of muscles while standing triggers the production of many substances in your body that aid how you use and store sugars and fats.  This is why your metabolism speeds up when you spend more time standing.  As a result, spending more time on your feet in the workplace can make the difference between staying slim and gaining weight.  The choice is yours.

Even further, I think that pretty much everyone can agree that when you’re standing in one place, you’re typically not staying in the same position the entire time.  Instead, you’re moving around to a certain extent and changing your body position without even intending to do so.  This explains how standing at your desk, as opposed to sitting, would encourage healthy movement such as fidgeting, pacing, and even simply shifting the distribution of your weight between legs.  By enabling you to move around more freely, standing allows for more natural activity throughout your workday and thus more calorie burn!!!  Not to mention, an increase in healthy movement will inevitably improve circulation, increase energy levels, and stimulate brain activity.  Now what could be bad about that?!

Furthermore, studies have shown that switching between a sitting position and a standing position at work will not only speed up your metabolism, improve your blood flow, and sustain energy, but it will also reduce stress on the body and, in turn, significantly decrease the amount of injuries that are caused by too much sitting. It has also been proven that greater bone density and improved sleep at night are direct results of workers spending more time standing throughout the workday.  Additional research has revealed that standing meetings in the office tend to progress much faster than sitting ones because standing stimulates more active participation and sharing of ideas.  It is this kind of research that has been driving more and more companies and individuals worldwide to take interest in the rapidly expanding market for adjustable desk systems that allow users to alternate between sitting, standing, and, in some cases walking, while simultaneously getting their work done. 

So with all of that said, as long as you want to be healthy, productive, comfortable, and injury-free at work, you should keep in mind that healthy movement throughout your workday is crucial, and you should think about investing in the next hottest thing in the workplace – the height-adjustable workstation – which will be the topic for our next post.

Now I just want to warn you that if you do decide to test out the whole standing-at-your-desk thing on your own, you may initially experience some muscle aches in your legs and/or feet. If this happens to you, do not worry!!! This should actually be expected because you will finally be using and engaging all of the muscles in your legs and feet throughout your workday – something that you have probably never done before.  If you do experience such muscle aches, just think of them as a clear sign that you are on your way to becoming more healthy and active in the workplace! This will get better with time as your muscles will strengthen and adjust to this change in your work style.

For more information about a height-adjustable workstation that will give you the freedom to choose whether you want to sit or stand at your desk at any given moment, 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.
August 5, 2013