One of my best friends texted me the following recently, “Do you have an office chair you suggest for helping with lower back pain?”
The answer to that question may surprise you. The best office chair appears to be no chair at all.
Standing desks are not just trendy; they offer many health benefits and appear to help you live longer!
The average office worker sits for 10+ hours per day. If you think of how much time you spend sitting at a computer, commuting/driving, eating meals, performing other work tasks, sitting in meetings, reading and watching television you will likely agree it is not hard to hit 10 hours in a day.
Research has shown that regular exercise does not counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. Research has also shown that sitting increases your chances for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, depression and thrombosis (blood clots). Recently, it has been suggested that prolonged sitting is more dangerous than smoking. The numbers are staggering:
- Those who sit a lot (10+ hours per day) are 54% more likely to have a heart attack.
- Men who sit more than 6 hours a day have a 20% higher mortality rate.
- Women who sit more than 6 hours a day have a 40% higher mortality rate.
- If you sit for more than 23 hours a week you are 64% more likely to die from heart disease.
- Those who sit a lot have more than twice the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Those who sit a lot have a 13% increased risk of cancer.
- Metabolism slows down 90% after just 30 minutes of sitting.
- Muscles in the lower body become weak and inhibited.
- Good cholesterol (HDL) levels drop 20% after just 2 hours of sitting.
When sitting for long periods of time your metabolism is affected as you do not produce the chemicals necessary for processing sugars and fats. Additionally, your circulation decreases dramatically. Your muscles and joints want to move and respond to outside forces. It is crucial to move your muscles and joints consistently to support healthy function, circulation and physiology.
Standing allows your body to adjust and move easily while keeping your muscles engaged and circulation adequate. All of this will keep your blood pressure lower and better regulate blood sugar, which will help ensure you live longer (those who sit 10+ hours per day have a 17% increased risk of mortality).
Another benefit of a standing desk is that you will burn more calories each day. That alone will help you with weight loss and/or maintain a healthy weight. Standing while working will burn approximately 33% more calories than sitting at work. A 180 pound male will burn ~100,000 more calories over the course of a year just by incorporating a standing workstation! (To see how many additional calories you could burn, check out this website: http://www.juststand.org/tabid/637/language/en-US/default.aspx
Standing offers more benefits than I ever imagined. It improves your ergonomics, your health, your metabolism, your mood and your overall physiology. Even if you are not ready to switch to a standing workstation consider standing regularly. Shoot for 2-4 hours per day. Consider having standing or walking meetings. Take your phone calls while standing or walking. Walk during lunch and other breaks. Stand up to think. Whatever your strategy, the only way to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of prolonged sitting is to not do it. Standing to do work will help you accomplish that.