By Patrick Sarian
(Victor Valley)– Desk jobs have been around for a long time, but with the advent of the typewriter and then the computer, more people have been sitting at the workplace and for longer hours than ever before in history, many without any knowledge of the repercussions and dangers of sitting for extended periods. I was one of those people. With 20 years working as a computer analyst, I’ve easily spent nearly entire workdays seated. This led me to weight gain and pain and injury to my back and legs.
What’s wrong with sitting?
Sitting for more than even 1 hour has been shown to induce biochemical changes in glucose metabolism that leads to the deposit of fats in adipose tissue in both people who do not exercise as well as those that may even exercise 30-60 minutes a day. Let that sink in for a minute: Regular exercise is not enough to counteract the damages of extended sitting! Our bodies have not evolved to sit all day for any reason.
For many years ergonomists (yes, actual job title!) have recommended that sitting be broken up by periodic standing and moving during the day, preferably 1-2 minutes every 20 to 30 minutes. This sounds great in theory but it may not be available or practical for many to simply stop working that often.
The Alternative: Standing at your workstation.
Standing results in higher muscle activity and burns an estimated 20% more calories over sitting. Standing workers tend to be more mobile and this also elevates circulation to muscles, joints and the brain.
That’s not to say that standing all day is easy to jump right into. The shift to standing can take the body a little time to adjust. For those new to standing for extended periods, there’s a chance of leg and foot soreness. It is important to take sitting breaks as often as needed as you naturally strengthen the muscles and joints and are able to stand for longer.
Different Types of Standing Desks
Some standing desks are better than others. There’s a wild variety of price, adjustability, workspace and weight capacity.
If you’re up for replacing your desk and it’s within your budget, an adjustable height desk is your choice. The next and most popular option is to convert your existing desk to give it capability to easily adjust from sitting to standing with a standing desk conversion kit.
There are also many DIY-types that either build their own, or simply use boxes to elevate their monitor & keyboard to standing height. These are a great start and inexpensive introduction into standing, but the obvious drawback is that this setup is not adjustable, so when you sit down to take a break you lose access to your computer interface.
Fortunately, according to the NY Times, some employers are now starting to encourage the use of standing desks to reduce sedentary behavior and resulting in healthier, more efficient energetic employees.
Whether you give standing at your desk a try for yourself or offer it as an option your employees, remember to start with gradually extending your minutes standing, wear comfortable shoes, and consider using a standing desk mat. You’ll certainly realize the benefits come sooner than you expect.
As for me, standing for the majority of my work day helped me lose 30 lbs and led me to be pain-free. This made me a fan, and turned me to blogging to share everything I’ve learned about standing desks.