The fortunate part of working in the trades is that you are active throughout the day. Of course when it’s 10 degrees outside and you’re working in a building with no heat staying active doesn’t rank up there with your top concerns. But what about the rest of us, staring at our computers all day, spending 8 or more hours sitting in an office chair all day? And even worse, sitting on the couch later on that night watching TV? Breaking news: this isn’t good for anyone’s well being. There’s been a rash of recent research imploring you to incorporate more movement into your day.
Our company recently started experimenting with stand-up desks that adjust easily up or down. I tried one for about an hour and I was hooked. Sometimes I sit during the morning and stand in the afternoon. Other times I stand all day. If I’m going to run on my lunch break then I will sit until then. Once your legs adjust to standing, it’s not a big deal. We went with the Varidesk brand and I would highly recommend them. They come just about ready right out of the box. They easily adjust up or down for sitting or standing and are super sturdy.
Sitting vs. Standing
Like a sedentary bump on a log, sitting burns the least amount of calories. There’s no resistance. When you are standing you are flexing your leg muscles even if you don’t realize it. You are also moving and balancing. As you get older weight gain creeps up on you. You may gain a pound a year and before you know it–you’re bordering on obese. Just an extra 30 calories a day left unchecked can build up to a pound a year. Yikes!
A 2013 study by the BBC shows that when we stand our heart beats about 10 beats per minute higher which translates to roughly 50 more calories burned per hour. That’s 2,000 calories a week, a full day’s worth of calories. And no you cant stand all day and then eat an entire pizza to make up for it.
“I Work Out Daily-I’m Good”
Not so fast. While it’s obviously beneficial to spend some time working out, much of your health may be determined by what you do for the rest of the day outside your half hour of strenuous exercise. Some evidence suggests that exercise can’t combat the ill effects of sitting. A 2015 “Time” article demonstrates research that shows that exercise may only help you if you are getting consistent activity throughout the day. The same percentage of risks were consistent among exercisers and non exercisers. The one common factor was the amount of sitting.
Check out some other benefits of exercise in one of our other posts.
Risk of Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer…..
Like one of those annoying pharmaceutical commercials that rambles on and on about all the risks of a particular medication while showing models running along the beach or chilling out in a bathtub the list of possible health implications from sitting is long and eye opening. Let’s just say that anything you can do to sit less and be more active will help you in your quest to stay healthy. Here are just a few of the dangers compiled from research on sitting.
- Obesity: The most obvious one. If you sit all day and don’t move you burn fewer calories and pack on the pounds. But every movement counts: stretching, fidgeting,etc. James Levine, of the Mayo Clinic discovered that when he monitored two groups of people using sensors, the group that moved 2.25 more hours per day stayed slimmer. That could mean walking to a person’s desk instead of emailing them.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Standing for even part of the day can resist your blood-sugar spikes by 11 percent. Sitting after meals may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 112%.
- Heart Disease: Prolonged sitting can increase your risk of heart disease by nearly 150%.
- Cancer: Sitting may increase the chance of the the dreaded “C” disease by up to 66%.
- Mortality: There is a direct link between sitting and early death. 49% Greater.
Now lets look at some additional benefits of standing at your desk instead of sitting.
- In a recent 7 week study, 87 percent of desk standers reported an increase in energy. By installing a sit/stand device time spent sitting was reduced by over an hour per day.
- Standing rather than sitting seems to improve back pain. Studies exist for both lower back and upper back relief after switching to a standing desk.
- Contrary to what many think, standing can actually increase your productivity according to some studies. One study found that office workers typed just as fast standing up as sitting. Another study found a 10% increase in productivity when standing.
As more and more office workers convert to standing desks and increased activity I’m sure we will see many more studies. Give it a try–get out of your chair and you may feel better. Before we had Varideks here at Coolfront, many of us just used boxes to set our computers on to elevate them to a standing position. It’s an easy, temporary option to see if you may want to purchase a real stand-up desk.
About the Author
My name is Tom, many people call me Tommy T, it’s that whole alliteration thing. Which sounds about right since I’m the resident writer at Coolfront. I wasn’t blessed with many skills but writing is one of them. When I’m not writing I’m either coaching, playing sports, watching sports or flipping stuff on eBay. One of my favorite quotes comes from the late great Jim Valvano of NC State basketball “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”More Content by Tom Talbot