In my last blog I talked about getting my standing desk set up to the appropriate height and becoming accustomed to how long I should stand and sit. Now that I am all set up and the standing has commenced, I am looking forward to the long list of health benefits associated with standing desks.
Sailing through the afternoon slump
The first thing I noticed when I started using my standing desk is that the dreaded afternoon slump did not hit me as hard as it does when I sit down at my desk after lunch. I also felt more productive, focused and overall more enthusiastic about what I was working on. Research has shown that standing up increases your ability to pay attention, speeds up your ability to process information by 5% to 20%, and increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain by 10% to 15%. Maybe this can help me cut down on my continuous coffee drinking throughout the day? Time will tell.
Reduced risk of obesity
Another immediate effect I noticed when I first started using my standing desk is I felt better standing up after eating a full meal. Also, to be honest, I didn’t feel as guilty after eating what probably wasn’t the healthiest lunch choice (but mom’s leftovers are so good!). That’s because it’s been found that standing for just two hours during an average workday can burn an extra 280 calories. That could potentially provide a weight loss of about 20 pounds over a year! I’m sure many of you are like me and looking for ways to incorporate healthy changes into your already busy schedules. So, I am excited to find such an easy way to work a calorie burning activity into my work day.
“Sitting Disease” and other risks
50 to 70 percent of people spend six or more hours sitting every day. Recent research shows this can affect your health… and even be deadly. The health concerns of a sedentary lifestyle have been coined “Sitting Disease”. Increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and even developing cancer are all health complications associated with this health epidemic.
One study compared adults who spent 2 hours a day sitting in front of a screen with people who logged more than 4 hours of screen time. It found those with 4 hours of screen time compared to 2, had a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and about a 125 percent increased risk of suffering from health problems associated with cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes, cancer and sitting
Scientists say sitting down too much can increase your risk of developing diabetes even if you work out regularly. They say people who exercise a lot, but sit very little reduce their risk of obesity (which is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes) by up to 75%!
Their study found that sitting less and being moderately active reduced the development of metabolic risk factors, such as ‘bad’ cholesterol and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
Studies also link cancer to sedentary lifestyles. Research presented at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), showed that up to 173,000 new cases of cancer could be prevented each year in the U.S. if people sat less. Researchers found the two types of cancer that seem to be the most influenced by sitting too much were breast cancer and colon cancer.
Sitting can cause blood clots
Besides these potentially deadly diseases, your workplace can also put you at risk for developing a deep vein-thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in your leg. You may have heard you are at a risk for such clots if you sit for a very long flight or are bed-ridden for an extended amount of time, but one hospital’s study found that employees who sat for several hours without getting up were more likely to develop DVT than those who moved around more often. They say this is especially concerning for those who do take long trips, have recently had surgery or have a clotting disorder.
Long term lower mortality rate
The good news is that simply reducing your daily sitting time could add years to your life. A study done in 2012 looked at how sedentary behavior affects life expectancy in the U.S. It found that life expectancy would be 2 years higher if adults reduced the time they spent sitting to less than 3 hours a day.
This being said, there are changes we can make to help us stave off sitting disease:
- Spend more time standing at work. There are many standing desks to choose from, so find one that works for you.
- When you are sitting, make sure to take a break for a few minutes each hour. Get up, walk around, go get a drink of water.
- Instead of emailing or calling your co-workers, get up and go talk to them!
- Change up your chair. You can purchase an ergonomic chair that is both comfortable and keeps your body actively engaged.
I hope the research I’ve presented gives you a better idea of how some simple changes in our lives can help us stay healthy for years to come.
I would love to hear what health benefits you have experienced since you started using your standing desk. Do you feel more productive? Have you lost weight? Has your doctor noticed any changes in your health? What tips do you have to help us stay active in the workplace? Please let us know!