With more and more people working in offices and sitting down at their desk for around 8 hours every day, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the problems this can cause to our overall health.
We’ve known for quite a while that a sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for our health, but this was associated with sitting at home watching TV every night when in fact, our day jobs may well be just as much to blame.
It might not sound like it, but it’s pretty serious. In a study of almost 800,000 people, one of the largest studies done to date, it was found that people who live a sedentary lifestyle have:
- 112% increase in developing diabetes
- 147% increase in cardiovascular disease
- 90% increase in death as a result of cardiovascular disease
- 49% increase in death from any cause
Research suggests that office workers spend at least two hours on their feet at work, with four hours being ideal, but there’s not many ways to achieve this with the bulk of the work taking place at a sitting desk.
There’s a lot of talk about mandatory walking or standing breaks, or moving the toilets further away from employees – but this could harm productivity, so it’s not ideal.
But before we all quit our office jobs, there is a better solution – standing desks. Experts who have studied the effects of sedentary office lifestyles advocate adjustable desks that allow you to sit and stand in order to reach the levels of activity suggested. It’s no surprise, then, that some workplaces are catching on to this idea.
So does standing at work actually make you healthier?
Yes and no.
Standing up throughout the day is of course beneficial, because sitting for hours on end isn’t going to do you any good, and I know I certainly feel tired and sluggish after sitting down for a couple of hours.
A standing desk is one way to solve the sitting problem but on the other hand it does not solve main problem and that is inactivity. It has not been proven that standing instead of sitting for prolong period of time is better.
It is true that by standing you burn more calories than by sitting but standing for repeated long periods of time may lead to issues like poor valve functioning in the veins in the legs (varicose veins). It also induces pressure on the knees and reduces lubrication – all of which may lead to tearing.
Ultimately, standing at work for two hours a day won’t improve your overall health if you aren’t active outside of the work place and eating a balanced diet.
Instead, what we should be doing is incorporating physical activity into our day-to-day routine. It’s difficult to do this within the workplace, but there’s lots of desk-based exercises that don’t take up much time at all.
On your lunch break, have a break from the office and head outside for a walk. We should aim to walk 10,000 steps every day, so fitting in a 20 minute walk on your lunch break is a great way to do just that.
Of course, if your boss insists on installing standing desks, make the most of it! Just be sure to incorporate some more structured exercise into your day to ensure you’re not falling into a sedentary trap.