Many studies have shown the unhealthy effects of the sedentary lifestyle so prevalent in our contemporary society, especially for office workers. Sitting too much is taking a toll on our health, well-being and productivity. With the increased awareness of sitting disease, many people are realizing the importance of changing posture throughout the day to improve mobility, flexibility, health and efficiency. A comfortable and healthy workspace is essential for productivity, and a good desk is at the center of that.
Standing desks have become increasingly popular, and for good reason. 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 so that you can vary your position and 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.
Reviews.com recently published a very thorough review of sit-stand desks. Their team spent six weeks researching and testing 67 adjustable standing desks to create a guide including several outstanding options suitable for a variety of budgets, design aesthetics, and work space needs. You can find their in-depth guide here.
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 footrest 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!
At Simply Placed our passion is helping people improve productivity in their personal and professional lives. Contact us to learn how our Business Productivity Consultants and Professional Organizers can help you and your business work smarter not harder, reduce stress and overwhelm, and accomplish your goals.