Use Standing Desks To Increase Your Life Expectancy
With the American Cancer Society having put out research statistics suggesting people sitting more than six hours a day have a higher death rate it is easy to see why sitting is labeled the new smoking. Couple this with other studies finding similar results where active people who exercise for at least five hours a week still have an increased risk of death if they sat longer you can easily see why standing desks are becoming a more common feature in the modern office space. It’s scary to think even if you go to the gym and exercise it doesn’t actually cancel out the negative health effects sitting has on your body. With the new work landscape that has arisen as a result of Covid-19 seeing many people now working from home (WFH) this has generally in my experience led to people moving less and often working from less ergonomically desirable work stations. Since Covid kicked off here last year I have seen an increase in my Sydney physio practice in the number of patients seeking help for back or neck pain that seemingly comes on without any clear trigger. On closer examination I am regularly finding these patients have switched to a WFH set up and are spending all day plonked in-front of a screen. And their previously sedentary lifestyle has been significantly amplified. They are no longer getting up to attend meetings, they now simply press a button to start their next zoom meeting, they have stopped going out for a walk to grab a coffee with colleagues and now just pop into their kitchen for their morning cuppa, and rather than walking or cycling to work, or getting on and off public transport they now walk from the bedroom to their computer (which is some circumstances is still the same room). All of these changes have some positives, which is why many patients are really enjoying this WFH shift, however a consequence is that there is typically considerably less movement occurring in a standard WFH day when compared to a regular “office day”. Many researchers have described sitting as “the smoking of our generation” and the new Covid landscape has simply exaggerated many peoples sedentary lifestyle which is in some ways detrimental to an individuals overall health.
Too Much Sitting Will Kill You
Too much of anything will kill you and too much sitting is no different. Prolonged sitting is linked with chronic back pain, weight gain, heart disease, and an increased risk of death by almost 50 per cent. So what more motivation should you need to start making a couple of simple lifestyle changes to improve your life expectancy.
What Is It That Is So Bad About Sitting?
Sitting itself isn’t really that bad, it is sitting for long periods without moving that’s the real villain here. Whilst we sit still tapping away at our keyboard and not moving our body other than the finger tips the risk of cardiovascular disease increases, blood circulation drops and production of good enzymes that burn fat plummet.
- Calorie-burning slows to 1/3 of the rate compared to standing and your metabolism drops.
- As a result the risk of obesity and diabetes just goes up and up.
Staying motionless in one position for a long time will do this to you, be it prolonged sitting, standing or lying. Using a standing desk at work will help solve the problem of not sitting, but doesn’t solve the problem of not moving. One way to combat this is to regularly alternate your working postures. Frequently swapping from sitting to standing throughout the day and when possible take a short lap around your place every time you do a positional swap.
Using Standing Desks Comes With Its Own Issues
Currently there’s a bit of a lack of research to link standing (or treadmill desks) to improved health values. A standing desk carries with it the benefit of burning a few more calories and generally putting your spine in a more neutral and favorable position than the horrid C-shaped spine of sitting, but with that said a standing desk can still cause:
- Extra load on your circulatory system and thus increased risk of varicose veins and carotid atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries).
- As well as these circulatory issues standing can cause added pressure to your knees and the other lower limb weight bearing joints and their associated soft tissues.
So ultimately just sitting less is not likely to be the key to a longer life, it is more our increasingly sedentary lifestyles as a population that need to change. Switching to a standing desk is a small but significant part of making taking positive step for your general health.
Disclaimer: This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance on Standing Desks The New Norm should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.