Is It Time to Get a Standing Desk? The Importance of Posture at Work
A whopping one in four adults sit for more than eight hours a day, with nearly half of all adults saying they do very little physical activity at all each week. Those startling stats should make you swivel your desk chair in surprise. But you don't need to quit your office job.
Upgrade your cubicle with a standing desk to improve your posture and combat the many shocking health effects of our always-sitting, sedentary lives.
What Is a Standing Desk?
The world's first standing desk was invented in the late 1990s. Since then, researchers have explored a myriad of ways that a standing desk and your posture at work can have an impact on your health, fitness, and even how long you live.
Standing desks are currently one of the fastest-growing office benefits in American workplaces. Most standing desks are purposefully built for their stated purpose: it's simply a desk that can either be manually or automatically raised to different adjustable heights. Some have a built-in motor, while others require you to push or press the desk up and down.
An increasing number of office workers are even bootstrapping their own standing desks. This is done by putting a box or a stack of books on a traditional desk, thus raising the height of your computer and keyboard so you can stand and work instead of sitting down.
What Are The Downsides of Sitting at a Computer or a Desk All Day?
A sedentary lifestyle, and specifically sitting for long periods of time without standing up, can lead to significant health problems. For example, sitting all day can:
- Reduce your daily calories burned, thus leading to unwanted weight gain (in fact, sitting for just two hours a day increases your risk of obesity)
- Cut years off of your life, with sedentary lifestyles linked with a 49% greater risk of dying early
- Raise your risk of heart disease by an astounding 147%
- Make you more susceptible to diabetes since sitting affects your insulin resistance
And no: exercising during your office lunch break or after work doesn't erase these risks.
In one study, researchers looked at people who sat all day, then did 60 minutes of high-intensity exercise. The hourly workout, unfortunately, did not change the health risks of the sedentary participants.
What Are the Benefits of a Standing Desk?
Besides changing your office decor, a standing desk may help you to:
- Burn more calories, albeit a moderately small amount (using a standing desk versus sitting all day burns approximately 170 extra calories a day)
- Reduce and better moderate your blood sugar (thereby reducing your diabetes risks)
- Lower your risks of heart disease, which remains one of the most deadly killers in America
- Improve your posture, with standing desks reducing neck and back pain by more than 50% within just one month of use
- Reduce your stress and fatigue while also increasing your work productivity
- Increase your longevity by years
Are There Negative Side Effects to Using a Standing Desk?
A standing desk is not a miracle cure for what ails you, but its health benefits are hard to deny. Despite these benefits, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Standing all day also has its drawbacks: studies have shown that those who stand all day for work have similar posture and back problems as those who sit all day
- Standing all day can impact your blood circulation (researchers recommend using an anti-fatigue mat)
- Standing all day can actually exacerbate some posture problems if you aren't also taking ergonomics (e.g., your computer monitor angle, your keyboard height, etc.) into account
However, the science is clear: a standing desk gives you more flexibility and customization to alleviate the health and disease problems brought about by traditional sitting desks.
What Else Can You Do to Improve Your Posture and Circulation During Work?
To get the most out of your standing desk, try incorporating the following ergonomic and wellness tips:
- Mix up your standing and sitting. It's clear that both standing all day, and sitting all day, are less than ideal. Mix it up. Current research suggests an even mix of standing and sitting is ideal (e.g., stand for 30 minutes, sit for 30 minutes, etc.).
- Adjust your computer equipment for ergonomic purposes, with your keyboard at a height where your elbows are at 90-degree angles, and you don't have to bend or arch your neck to see your screen.
- Use arm and wrist supports on your standing desk, which helps improve posture and reduce chronic posture-related pain.
- Use a stool or an exercise ball to take a break while also engaging your core and legs.
Finally, don't neglect your actual workouts. While exercise doesn't cancel out the harmful effects of sitting down all day, using a standing desk also doesn't eliminate the need for regular sweat sessions. Think of a standing desk as a tool to help optimize your daily wellness practices and not as a way to avoid your normal gym routine.
By combining a standing desk with your regular exercise program, you can help eliminate the weight gain and disease risks that come with our standard 9-5 office jobs.
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Worried about your circulation and cardiovascular health after a month (or a decade!) of sedentary living? Supplements like vitamin E, iron, and turmeric have all been linked with improved circulation. Concerned about your bone health and general posture? Great supplements for bone health include vitamin D, magnesium, and obviously calcium. You can find all these supplements and more at Tiger Fitness today! And at great prices that won't cause you to slouch away.