Staying Healthy at The Office - Week 4: Stand-up Desks and Their Benefits

Benefits of a Standing Desk

Being comfortable at work is likely one of the biggest contributing factors to productivity. As crazy as that may sound, being comfortable leads to being content, being content leads to being productive. No dark side here, let’s be comfortable and get work done! All of that being said, sitting in a plush desk chair may seem comfy, but the effects from said chair can be painful, or even debilitating. Studies have shown that decrease of blood flow from sitting in a desk chair for six hours a day (that’s the average!), can lead to back, leg, and foot pain and discomfort, not to mention what it’s actually doing to your heart health. Moving around and getting the blood circulating is crucial and can be done by simply standing while you work. “Standing while you work?” you ask. Yes. Standing desks are all the rage now, and for good reason. Look around and you’ll notice more and more doctors’ offices are equipped with stand-up desks. If it’s good enough for a doctor, it’s probably good enough for us.

Sitting is So Last Season

It’s been said that “sitting is the new smoking.” While that is a bit of a stretch, a sedentary lifestyle can potentially lead to diabetes, weight gain, and increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Being tethered to a desk eight hours a day doesn’t help, either. So if a standing desk isn’t an option, be sure to get up, take a few steps around, stretch, and let the blood flow. Sitting behind or at a desk for hours on end can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. 

Don’t Cross Those Legs

Some habits while sitting seem so normal, but can be detrimental to your health. Habits like crossing your legs may have serious side effects. Studies have shown that keeping your legs crossed can hinder the blood flow to your lower extremities, can cause neck and back pain and even, in some cases, elevate your blood pressure. If you were at a standing desk reading this, your legs wouldn’t be crossed, would they? 

Posture is Key

We’re not advocating standing is best for everyone or even all of the time. But standing can actually help you burn calories and help with your posture. In fact, the majority of people sitting at desks throughout the day aren’t doing it with great posture. If standing at a desk isn’t an option for you, be sure that your body is centered in front of your monitor and that your feet are flat on the floor and that your knees are at a 90-degree angle, and about the same height as your hips. Should your feet not be flat on the ground, a footrest might be recommended for you. One of the more popular culprits of lower back pain is slouching at your desk while working. Though we all tend to do it, this trend needs to stop. Slouching only leads to even poorer posture and more visits to your doctor than most people are comfortable with.

Change Your Desk, Change Your Behavior

Some of the behaviors inherent in a sitting desk job could be hurting you, other than slouching and poor posture. Leaning your face on your hand is one of these behaviors. We don’t even think about throwing that elbow on the desk and supporting our head with one hand, but we do it, and we do it often. Leaning your face on your hands, fingers or palms can not only spread germs that can lead to skin breakouts or illness but they can also cause neck and back discomfort, as well. Aside from that, studies suggest workers that are sitting tend to snack more often than those who work while standing. Even healthy snacking can be bad if it’s too much. 

Standing vs. Sitting

There have been numerous studies that prove the benefits of standing far outweigh the benefits of sitting while at a desk for 6+ hours each day. You can read here for more information on these statistics. One study conducted concluded that 80% of the participants felt less back pain and more limberness by standing up just 4 out of 8 work hours.You’re probably sitting right now, what do you plan to do in the future? Watch out for your body and it will watch out for you! With a healthier, stronger body, you’ll have a healthier, stronger immune system. So taking better care of yourself while working a desk job can be beneficial in a number of ways. 

Photo credit: planetc1 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

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