By Cindy Smith
Technology has made us the most sedentary humans in history. Studies have shown, if you sit for more than 6 hours a day, your risk of heart disease increases up to 64 percent. Mayo Clinic Cardiologist, Martha Grogan states, “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”
On the upside, businesses and corporations are offering health club memberships to their employees as incentives. According to the annual surveys conducted by the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), there has been a significant increase in the number of health clubs, gyms, and other fitness centers. However, studies are showing that working out more does not combat the effects of sitting for long periods of time.
So, how do we answer the health crisis? Standing desks are becoming the trend in work spaces. Many businesses have desks that are adjustable with the push of a button and airports have begun installing standing working stations. But do standing desks really help?
Working at a standing desk for three to four hours a day means your heart is beating an average of 10 more times per minute. Now, that doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to about 50 calories an hour. If you stand for three hours a day for five days that’s around 750 calories burned. Over the course of a year it would add up to about 30,000 extra calories, or approximately eight pounds of fat! Now, that’s something I can get excited about! And as if we needed another benefit, some studies show that working at a standing desk can reduce upper back and neck pain by 54%.
There are also many psychological benefits to standing while you work. With an increased heart rate, comes a boost in energy and alertness. Plus, standing helps you concentrate on the tasks at hand making you more productive by up to 10%. Study participants who used active desks also showed a clear mood boost. In one seven-week study of standing desk use, participants reported less fatigue, tension, confusion, and depression, and more vigor, energy, focus, and happiness.
As with anything, standing too much can have an adverse effect. If you stand in one place for too long without sitting or moving around, you may experience swelling in your feet and ankles and varicose veins. There’s also more pressure on your knees. And let’s face it, if you’re hurting, you’re not going to be too focused on work.
So, what’s the answer? MODERATION. In keeping with a balanced lifestyle, standing for short periods during the day will give you the desired health benefits. Most of us have times when production falls, we get a little sleepy, and have difficulty staying on task. Standing 30 minutes to an hour can get you over the hump and able to finish the day strong. We can’t all stand up at work, but the researchers believe that even small adjustments, like standing while talking on the phone, going over to talk to a colleague rather than sending an email, or simply taking the stairs, will help.
Cindy is a Certified Integrative Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer for professional women. She has been helping women achieve their health and fitness goals for the past 15 years. Cindy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.