It seems like every day there’s a new study suggesting the thing you love is the thing that will be the detriment to your health.
Social media has seriously negative effects on your well-being. Taking selfies is now officially a mental disorder. And if you’re thinking of streaming a marathon of your favorite 90s sitcom, be forewarned that you’re increasing your risk of diabetes with every will they/won’t they moment Ross and Rachel share.
Well, it seems there’s something else that can adversely affect your health–something you’re probably doing right now. You may want to
sit down stand up for this.
Sitting down for the majority of the day (at work, school, etc.) is very unhealthy. Sure, it was never exactly looked at as a great way to get in shape, but it’s at least been accepted as a necessary evil so that we can learn or get work done.
But just how bad is sitting all day for our bodies?
Martha Grogan, cardiologist for the Mayo Clinic, says “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”
The British Journal of Sports Medicine says “Prolonged sitting should be considered within occupational health and safety policies just like other elements of posture.”
In fact, our lives can be shortened by as many as 22 minutes for every hour spent sitting, according to a study from the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
“I run an hour a day, but I was shocked to see how few steps I took in the other 23 hours,” says Dr. Erin Michos, a preventative cardiologist and marathon runner. Dr. Michos wore a step-tracking device to see how sedentary most of her day was and now is more mindful of moving during the day.
The need for change has resulted in the emergence of alternative desks, or sit-stand desks. If you have not seen them in your school or place of work, they are adjustable desks that give you the option to work in a standing position.
But are sit-stand desks actually helping people, or is it just another fly-by-night fitness gimmick like the ones we’ve seen so often? There is credible evidence that they actually do work. Here are some key findings from research gathered by JustStand.org:
- According to a Stanford University study on back pain, workers were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations.
- A 2015 study published in the Oxford Journal of Public Health shows that sit-to-stand desks in classrooms appear to be an effective way of reducing sedentary behavior (prolonged sitting) in a diverse sample of children.
- At their 2013 annual meeting, the American Medical Association adopted policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting, such as sit-stand desks.
- A 2011 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that when workers are equipped with sit-stand workstations, prolonged sitting is reduced and mood states improve.
The University of Iowa conducted a study of employees with sit-stand desks and found they burned more calories than those that sit, and stood about an hour a day more in comparison.
And if you’re looking for a completely subjective opinion on the benefits of a standing work station, this guy has been using one for five years. He says it’s helped eliminate his chronic back pain, improved his posture and improved his productivity, among other things.
We’re inclined to believe there is something to be said about breaking up a sedentary lifestyle. Anything that is going to improve your health using only your body is something we’re all for. It is important to remember, however, that this should be a compliment to your healthy lifestyle, not the be-all and end-all solution.
So here are some alternatives to the sitting desk.
If eight hours straight of standing is not something you see yourself jumping out of the bed for, you may want to switch it up. An adjustable desk is perfect for you. Here are some cool variations:
Wooden Counterweight Desk
Using rollers and counter-weights, this guy’s do-it-yourself desk can hold over 250 pounds of weight and transitions from sitting to standing desks with ease.
5-Monitor Adjustable Desk
With multiple monitors, you can more easily use programs simultaneously, set up fairly easily and quickly reference important information. Not many people choose to go for five screens, but that sure opens up your possibilities.
Suspended Bridge Adjustable Desk
Check out what this guy did with a suspended bridge concept. Using pulleys and a whole lot of wood (sorry, Magneto, no bringing down this bridge), this guy created something very special.
Squat Rack Adjustable Desk
Here at SOA, we’ve got a lot of options for you that are great alternatives to heavy weights and equipment. But once you make the transition, what do you do with the old, clunky equipment? Well, if you’re like this imgur user, you turn your former squat rack into a standing desk.
Exercise Ball Desk
When you’re taking a break from standing, try opting for an exercise ball. An exercise ball can counteract the poor posture of a chair while building core strength.
“For one, people tend to slouch and use poor posture,” says John P. Porcari, PhD, FACSM, exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse. “And sitting in a chair puts your abs on ‘slack’ and decreases core strength. Using an exercise ball counteracts both of these things.”
Here’s Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of video game development and online distribution company Valve Corporation, utilizing an exercise ball at his desk:
Try switching out the chair for the ball 20-30 minutes a day to start.
For those of you who want to kick your get-healthy-while-working efforts into high gear, consider a treadmill desk. When Craig Engler finally decided he needed to get healthier, he was confronted with the bothersome fact that he hated going to the gym. It was boring and inconvenient, so instead, he fashioned himself a treadmill desk.
As a result, Gengler lost 67 pounds.
The desk was more expensive than he anticipated, but he says its high cost and quality would be incentive to use it often.
“Yes, it was hellishly expensive,” Gengler says. “But there are ways to do it pretty cheaply. And let’s be honest, I’ve probably spent more than that on unused gym memberships, and at least this actually works.”
And for you employers out there looking to energize your workforce, there’s research that suggests treadmill desks are good for business, enhancing productivity.
Note: If, like many others, the reason you’re opting for a standing desk is lower back pain, we’ve got a great article with some exercises that should help.