Many studies have been published recently about the unhealthy effects of our sedentary lifestyle. Sitting too much is taking a toll on our health and well-being. Many people are opting for standing desks to vary their posture and prevent sitting disease. A 2014 study in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health found that giving desk workers sit-stand desks reduced their sedentary time by more than three hours per week, while increasing their sense of well-being and energy, decreasing appetite and fatigue, and keeping their productivity steady.
If you decide to move to a standing desk, consider a sit-stand option that allows variable heights. It is important to vary your posture frequently throughout the day, not just exchange one static position for another. Standing all day can compress the spine and lead to lower back problems over time. It can also increase your risk for carotid arteries, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and other cardiovascular problems since the heart has to work against gravity to keep blood flowing up.
Whether sitting or standing, if you are doing it statically, that is where problems arise. Our bodies are designed to move, so look for ways to add movement whichever posture you choose. When you are standing, you can use a foot rest to take the weight off one foot then the other. If you’re sitting, try reclining so your legs and torso form a 135 degree angle. (You might think you look like you’re in a lazy posture but studies show this to be the healthiest seated position.) Even just fidgeting or any kind of small movement will provide some value.
Even if you don’t have a standing desk, you can incorporate periods of standing and movement into your work day. You can stand and walk while you’re making phone calls or reading printed material, which benefits your body since doing computer work does not give your eyes, fingers, hands or arms a break. Most people also find that they feel more alert and confident while standing and walking vs. sitting, another good reason to stand and move while making important phone calls.
Incorporating physical activity into your work day is healthy, effective and fun. You don’t necessarily need to have time to go to the gym for a workout; you can do small things at your office to keep moving. While you’re waiting for your lunch to microwave, you can do some squats or stretches. Taking a short walk outside between projects is a great way to recharge your body and your mind.
Try working in focused sprints of 30 to 90 minutes then changing posture, moving around for a few minutes, doing some stretches. Some people find it helpful to use a timer to remind them when to change posture and take breaks. Listen to your body; it will tell you when it’s time to move!
This Sitting Disease Prevention Guide is loaded with current and comprehensive information related to sitting disease and how to prevent it. You’ll find many suggestions for how to make an inexpensive DIY standing desk or where to purchase one, helpful stretches, studies about sitting disease and much more.
Do you have a sit-stand desk you love, or tips for how to keep moving while working? Share them with us!