Why standing desks are good for your health
It’s common knowledge that sitting for too long can have a detrimental effect on your health, with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and even early death. With today’s workforce spending more and more time at their desks – and therefore predominantly seated, especially if they’re working from home – the likelihood of these side effects will only increase over time.
One way of alleviating the effects of prolonged sitting is to opt for a standing – or sit-stand – desk. With adjustable settings to enable you to stand or sit comfortably while working, standing desks are a great way to improve your employees’ health and wellbeing. Standing desks can have a positive effect on a number of health issues, including:
Weight gain and obesity
In essence, people gain weight by consuming more calories than they burn during the day, and using a standing desks allows you to burn more calories than if you stay seated. Clearly, rigorous exercise is the best way to burn calories quickly, but simply electing to stand rather than sit at work can make a big difference, with 3-4 hours of standing potentially burning up to 170 more calories than sitting. That amounts to around 1,000 additional calories per week, which explains why standing desks are being linked with less weight gain and obesity.
Blood sugar levels
Our blood sugar levels always rise after eating, and that can have a negative effect on your general health, and especially for anyone with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Alternating between standing and sitting can help to alleviate spikes in blood sugar and – significantly – working at a standing desk can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 112%.
As far back as 1953, health professionals were suggesting that the health of your heart could be improved by standing rather than sitting. Since then, scientists have discovered that the risk of heart disease can be heightened by close to 150% simply by remaining seated for long periods. Not only that, it’s believed that an hour of high-tempo exercise may not be sufficient to negate the effects of a full day of sitting.
One of the most common causes for staff absence due to sickness is back pain and its associated issues. Studies among workers with long-term back pain suggest that a standing desk can generate a 32% improvement in their condition after just a few weeks. Not only that, reverting to extended periods of sitting quickly undid all the good work that the standing desks had done for respondents.
Energy levels and mood
Standing while working can reduce stress and improve your levels of mental health, with nearly nine out of ten of those surveyed reporting that they felt they enjoyed greater levels of energy and therefore felt less tired at the end of the working day. In addition, when asked to go back to their traditional seated way of working they revealed that their mood and energy had reverted to previous levels.
In their early days it was suggested that standing desks were more of a hindrance than a help, with standard tasks such as typing being made more difficult. These theories have, however, been disproved and the overall impression is that by boosting health, wellbeing and mood, they contribute to increased productivity.
Perhaps most importantly, standing desks have even been linked to an increase in life expectancy as there appears to be a strong correlation between extended sitting and early death. So much so, that a recent survey indicated that bringing down the time you spend sitting each day by three hours may extend your life expectancy by up to two years. As a result, adopting a standing desk and alternating between sitting and standing could have a huge impact on your health.
Lee Alexander, owner of Alexander Green Office Interiors, is a big advocate of standing desks. ‘Whether we’re re-designing an entire office space or simply supplying new furniture, we always encourage our clients to consider switching to a standing desk,’ comments Lee. ‘I love the various health benefits that standing desks can deliver – so much so in fact that I use one all the time at Alexander Green HQ. We find that most clients haven’t given consideration to standing desks but once we run through the positive impact they can have on health, wellbeing and – importantly – productivity, then the majority are keen to give them a try.’
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