Are standing desks a fad? Alternatively, are there real health benefits of standing desks?
This might the question that pops up in your mind whenever you think about standing desks.
Well, the fact is, people are now more sedentary than ever, and that’s the most worrisome thing about modern-day health.
This is evident enough, right from the time we wake up till the time we hit the sack, we’re sitting all the time—in our cars stuck in traffic, in our office staring at our screens and even after work, binge-watching the Game of Thrones.
All these factors have lead up to the increasing cases of “lifestyle diseases.” Lifestyle diseases can range from heart ailments to diabetes, from obesity to back pain, and even sometimes cancers.
But the silver lining is that you can easily change your lifestyle through simple measures and reduce these fatal health risks.
One lifestyle change we’ll examine today is using a standing desk through your work day.
How Standing Desks Are Better For Your Health
Standing desks, also called sit-stand desks, are desks that can be adjusted to allow you to work while standing.
A recent innovation called adjustable standing desk converter, takes this a step further. With a standing desk converter you don’t need to replace your desk – just put place the converter on your table. You can sit or stand to work by manually or electrically adjusting the height of your workstation.
Standing desks have been used by famous people like Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill. Today, they are gaining popularity as the health benefits of standing desks have become evident with recent research.
Here are the 5 science-backed health benefits of standing desks:
1. Standing reduces the risk of heart disease
Standing more and sitting less lowers your cholesterol levels and therefore your weight. This in turn reduces the risk of developing heart ailments.
In the 1950s, UK researchers compared the incidence of heart attacks of bus conductors, who stand all day, to the bus drivers, who sit all day. They found that the drivers were 42% more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease compared to the conductors.
In a study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology in the USA, over 100,000 adults were sampled and the research found people who sat for 6 hours or more a day died earlier than those who sat for 3 hours or less.
The study also found that time spent sitting was independently associated with the death rate. This meant that regardless of whether the participants regularly exercised, the time spent sitting was strongly correlated with their risk of death.
What does this mean for you? This means that even if you work out in the morning, it is not enough. Being physically active throughout your work day is equally important.
2. Standing lowers your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
Sitting for too long increases the blood sugar and insulin levels in your blood. This increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
In a study published in Diabetologia, it was found that people who were more sedentary had higher chances of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those who were more active.
In fact, one extra hour of sedentary time was associated with a 22% increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and a 39% increased risk of metabolic syndrome!
On the bright side, taking even short standing or walking breaks have been found to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another recent study tracked the activity of people who wore accelerometers. The study found that irrespective of the total time people spent exercising or sitting, they who moved more frequently had lower blood glucose levels as compared to the people who sat for prolonged periods.
So if you are at risk of developing diabetes, whether through family history or being diagnosed as pre-diabetic, look at maintaining a good level of activity through using a standing desk.
3. A standing desk could reduce your risk of musculoskeletal problems.
Ask a room of office workers if they suffer from a back or neck pain. There’s a good chance, 80% of them would say “Yeap!”.
Back pain is one of the most common complaints of office workers. This is unsurprising with the long hours most of us work.
This is where an ergonomically designed electric standing desk converter comes in handy.
A study in Australia compared the levels of fatigue in workers who used a stand-up desk converter every 30 minutes versus those who were seated only.
It found that the sit-stand desk users experienced a significant reduction of 31.8% in their lower back pain and a 22% reduction in overall tiredness.
If you can correlate this with any pain or tiredness you are feeling, it’s time to speak with your doctor or physiotherapist to understand if a standing desk could help you.
4. Standing more reduces the risk of obesity
Now here’s something interesting – fidgeting, shaking your foot and an inability to sit still, could actually make you leaner and healthier. Yeah, that’s true!
James A Levin an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic recruited a group of workers who engaged in a specific exercise routine and diet.
Despite the standardized diet and exercise, some participants gained weight, and some didn’t.
Dr Levine’s study found that obese people tend to fidget much less as compared to the leaner people. Obese people were found to be spending kpre than 2 hours more each day sitting idle.
One astonishing fact is that fidgeting alone is enough to burn 350 extra calories per day, which adds up to a weight loss of 4 to 13 kg per year. This is not be be sneezed at!
Standing desks are a great way to introduce low-grade physical activity into your workday because you will naturally move and fidget more when you stand.
5. Standing may reduce your risk of cancer
Prolonged sitting could increase your risk of certain types of cancer.
A study carried out by the National Cancer Institute, and the Centre for Disease Control found that nearly a hundred thousand cases of breast and colon cancer are linked to inactivity in the United States alone.
While the underlying reason for this increase is unclear, the scientists found a higher number of C-reactive proteins (a type of biomarker) in people who sat for a longer duration. This could be linked to the development of cancer.
Dr Neville Owen of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute puts it well-
“Sitting time is emerging as a strong candidate for being a cancer risk factor in its own right. It seems highly likely that the longer you sit, the higher your risk.
It is no wonder that sitting is considered “the new smoking,”.
How do we avoid the health risks of prolonged sitting?
It’s easy to do so in the short term. Just stand up and walk around the office right now.
But this is just ad hoc activity, and not helpful as a long term solution.
Here is where we should look at the health benefits of standing desks or standing desk converters. They are a tool that enables you to make regular activity at work a habit.
In particular, Altizen standing desks don’t just enable you to sit or stand to work. They actively remind you when you have been sedentary for too long.
Don’t wait any longer to take control of your health. Start finding out more about how you can enjoy the health benefits standing desks will bring today.