Sit Less, Stand More for More Energy, Better Health and Aging
Apparently health experts are stating “sitting is the new smoking”. Although a bit dramatic, this bold statement has some definite truth to it. A number of studies have shown that prolonged sitting is linked to an increased risk of many chronic conditions and diseases that appear to be very similar to those which are attributed to smoking.
What Happens to Your Body When You're Sitting Down?
Sitting for too long slows down the body’s metabolism and the way the enzyme lipoprotein lipase breaks down fat. On the other hand, blood glucose levels and blood pressure both increase. Without regular physical activity to break up the long spells of sitting, blood sugar levels and blood pressure may keep creeping up putting you at risk of poor health in the future.
Taking a Stand at Work
The benefits of standing instead of spending so much time sitting are finally starting to catch on. Celebrities Jimmy Kimmel, Felicia Day, Susan Orlean and Victoria Beckham have all been photographed walking while working on a treadmill desk. Such luxuries are not for everyone as a treadmill desk typically costs between $2500 and $6,000 and is not suitable for all office workers. Adjustable, sit-stand desks that allow workers to alter the height so they can work while sitting down or standing up, offer a more practical solution. Standing desks are already much more common in countries like Scandinavia, where many offices have adopted the standing desk set-ups with much success. In some countries standing desks are being prescribed for back pain and injuries to help with rehab and prevent further pain.
10 Health benefits of Standing at Work
- Tones muscles- standing allows your body to adjust and move easily flexing your muscles continuously
- Improves posture and ergonomics
- Ramps up metabolism
- You burn more calories standing
- Glucose is processed more efficiently and is better regulated
- Alleviates back pain
- Increases your focus, alertness and activity level
- It keeps your blood circulating well
- Keeps your blood pressure lower than when you are sitting for long periods of time
- Fights fatigue and reduces tiredness
Options for Offices Not yet Ready to Stand All Day
Not all offices have the budget, space or vision to allow for standing desks and the like, but there are ways you can break up your sitting time with a few helpful ideas:
- Remove under-desk waste bins, forcing yourself to walk to a central rubbish/recycle bin
- Use the stairs instead of lifts
- Stand up to take phone calls
- Leave your work area when you take a break, go outside walk to a park or bench somewhere. Standing up and walking around increases circulation to the muscles and oxygen to the lungs
- Remember to stand once an hour
- Try to get about 30 minutes of activity per day
- Park near the back of the parking lot
- Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair
- Walk over and talk to a co-worker instead of emailing or calling them
- Take the scenic route to the bathroom instead of the most direct
- Remove chairs from meeting rooms where possible and stand to meet
- Hold walking meetings outside the building
The key is to not sit for longer than an hour at a time if you can. You’ll see positive differences in terms of musculoskeletal pain, and also work productivity.
Studies have also shown that regular exercise does not counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. The only way to reduce or eliminate the negative impact of prolonged sitting is to not do it. Working at a standing desk will accomplish that for most people. But breaking up the time sitting is a good option.
Whichever way we do it, for the good of our health, our backs and our bottoms, perhaps it's time for individuals and offices alike to start thinking about this and making moves towards better health.
Now that I’ve got you thinking about this all, I’m off to the park for my lunch break.