Why you should work standing up

work standing up business

For a lot of employees, their workday consists of hours and hours spent sitting down, only interrupted by short pauses to walk around the office or down the block. While we tend to dismiss this fact as a routine part of life, the amount of time spent sitting by most adults has become a growing concern among researchers. A growing body of studies suggests that spending hours every day sitting down can not only damage your physical and mental health, but even shorten your lifespan.

How sitting can damage your health

Innovations such as the standing desk or drafting chairs have become more and more popular in workspaces worldwide. The development is not that surprising, considering study results concerning the effects of sitting all day on mental and physical wellbeing. One study, for example, that was published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed a clear association between prolonged sitting on a regular basis, and a risk of early death. Out of the 8.000 participants, people who usually sat for no more than 30 minutes at a time proved to have the lowest risk. 

Other studies have linked sedentary behaviors such as prolonged sitting with health issues like poor heart health, weight gain, diabetes, dementia, depression, and multiple forms of cancer. Habitual inactivity also raises risks for deep-vein thrombosis, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.

The three biggest health risks related to sitting for an extended time that have been proven by science time and time again are the following:  

  • Sitting down for prolonged periods of time can cause your blood circulation to slow down. This can cause a build-up of fatty acids in your blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease. 
  • Prolonged sitting has also been linked to the development of insulin resistance. This means there is also a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 
  • Staying in one position for hours on end on a regular basis slows down your metabolism, lowering your body’s ability to break down and burn fat by up to 90%. 

Prolonged sitting is a habit on the rise

One of the most recent published studies in JAMA, that surveyed more than 51,000 Americans, showed that the amount of time spent sitting increased by approximately about an hour a day between 2007 and 2016. The increase could be observed in a range of age groups, with a notable rise among adolescents. 

Eric K. Holder, MD, a Yale Medicine physiatrist, is worried about the development – but not surprised: “It is so ingrained in our society now—people are stationed at desks, seated in front of computers or the TV for extended periods, constantly traveling in cars, trains, and on planes. It’s a major health problem that can lead to many chronic diseases.”. Holder says he can observe the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle every day: “Prolonged sitting is one of the main causes for many of the conditions treated in my musculoskeletal clinic. It often results in office visits with other types of doctors as well.”

Benefits of working while standing up

To prevent health issues caused by prolonged sitting, experts recommend working at height adjustable standing desks. This way, the aforementioned health risks can be decreased, while employees profit from multiple benefits:

Increased productivity

In some cases, working while standing up may improve your productivity. This is especially true for people who have a hard time staying concentrated during longer periods of working. Standing up offers a change from the traditional work environment and often results in employees feeling more in control of their workday. Because of this and the sense of variety provided by a change of position, a lot of workers are more productive while using a standing desk, than they are when sitting at a traditional sitting desk.

Reduced back pain

Back pains are a common consequence of having to sit in an office all day. Bad posture and outdated office furniture often lead to an aching back. Standing up while working can help keep a straight posture during work hours, reducing the strain on your lower back and the resulting back aches. 

Improved mood

Unsurprisingly, being more productive and in less pain also helps improve employees’ moods and satisfaction with their workplace. Being able to choose whether to work standing up or sitting down has also been shown to increase employee satisfaction. 

Keep in mind: But, as with everything, when it comes to working standing up, balance is the key. Usually, it is better to increase the “standing time” slowly, starting with 30 to 60 minutes before slowly working up to multiple hours. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing foot, leg, or back pain because of the unfamiliar strain. Experts recommend setting a timer to remind you when to sit down again. However, since constant interruptions can impact your concentration and negatively impact your focus, it makes sense to experiment with different time intervals to find a rhythm that works for you.

Does working while standing up help with weight loss?

One of the most asked questions when it comes to working standing up is whether it can help with weight loss. After all, standing up is usually more demanding than sitting in a chair. However, according to researchers publishing in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, that doesn’t necessary mean it can help with losing weight. In the study, the researchers fitted the 74 healthy participants with masks to measure oxygen consumption. Using the consumption rate as a reflection of how many calories were burned during working on a computer sitting down, standing, or walking on a treadmill, they came up with the following results:

  • while working sitting down, participants burned around 80 calories/hour 
  • while working on a standing desk, about 88 calories/hour were burned – so only slightly more than while sitting
  • working while working on a standing desk and walking on a treadmill burned 210 calories/hour

So, while working standing up can help with preventing obesity and correlated health issues, it is not an effective way to lose weight – at least not on its own. Combining a standing desk with a treadmill to walk while working can burn nearly thrice as much calories per hour, than sitting or standing up. 

Add a comment