Although saying that “sitting is the new smoking” maybe a little extreme, sitting all day does have potential hazards. Sitting for long periods can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. After all, one of the top ten risk factors for mortality worldwide is a lack of physical activity. This is also not novel information. The American College of Sports Medicine released a study in 2009 that found that irrespective of the level of fitness, those who sat the most had a 50% greater risk of dying prematurely.
Sitting for lengthy durations puts a tremendous amount of strain on the lumbar spine’s intervertebral discs, significantly if you’re slumped at your workstation. The discs are fluid-filled and can become dehydrated due to inactivity or prolonged sitting body positions, which can cause tightness and, eventually, further disc deterioration. According to a 2011 study, sitting for long periods is associated with various health outcomes, such as premature mortality and chronic illnesses. Consider heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes, as well as obesity and metabolic disorders.
Whether you work in an office at home, you’ve probably heard of one trend that’s rapidly spreading in many workplaces: standing desks. Standing desks, on the other hand, are more than just a fad. Many people have claimed that using a standing desk has tangible benefits, ranging from increased energy to reduced back pain. To see for me, I used a standing desk at work for about a month. Here’s what happened:
Learned about other muscles
After using a standing desk for the first long day, I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had. I experienced some stiffness and pain in unexpected places until I became accustomed to it. In places like the tops of your feet and the edges of your lower spine, you start to become even more aware of your body. You may notice that a variety of small muscles begin to contract in addition to supporting you.
Bloating is a concern that every office worker can relate to. Even if you go to the gym daily, sitting for eight hours or more can indeed not be good for your digestive process. I’ve also developed the poor habit of eating my food at my workstation and in front of my desktop, and that quick walk around the block seems somewhat unrealistic to fit in between my day’s tasks. Let me be clear: eating at your desk is almost certainly the worst thing you can do.
This, as per Healthline, can cause reflux, heartburn, and digestive problems.
“… reclining or slouching increases pressure in the stomach, making it more likely that food will be pushed back up into the esophagus,”
“Reflux is also more likely to happen when there’s too much food in the stomach. This puts pressure on the valve that separates the esophagus from the abdomen, increasing the likelihood that the stomach contents will travel back up.
“Eating while sitting upright or standing up can reduce pressure in the stomach, reducing the likelihood of reflux.”
Mindful about my posture
When you’re sitting behind a desk, your posture is generally something you’re not thinking about. Typically, I prefer to lean to one side and shift between relaxing both forearms on my workstation and resting only one arm. When I first started using a standing desk, I discovered how bad my posture was and became more conscious of how I conducted myself at work. Instead of tilting to or preferring one side, I attempted to set myself up for success by having both feet beside one another, my shoulders pushed down, and my body weight distributed equally.
Patience in adjusting
Your body may complain when you first attempt using a standing desk. When I initially tried it, I instantly returned to my seat. Standing and typing at a computer feels strange. We’re beings who stick to our routines. It’s natural to feel awkward when trying anything new. It takes time for your body to adjust to the thought of standing rather than sitting at work.
When I sat down to work, I would become so engrossed in the computer monitor that I would not move or rest my eyes. Standing allows you to move around much more naturally and even take a stroll around the workplace more. You notice yourself straining your legs, which can help with circulation. And because you’re at a higher elevation, remembering to glance around the room to take your eyes away from the screen is simpler.
Prolonged standing is ridiculous
While I enjoyed this new approach, I discovered that I couldn’t stand for more than an hour each time. Standing for extended periods can put a strain on the lower spine, legs, and feet. Let’s not miss why I began this exercise in the first place: to let go of that back pain! The key is to strike a balance between sitting and standing.
This is primarily due to increased mobility and improved posture. Using a standing desk arrangement puts your body in a great spot, so your muscles are less agitated. My unceasingly sore shoulders began to loosen up, and my back felt more at ease. Instead of feeling rigid and locked, I had more flexibility during my end-of-day stretching session. A height-adjustable desk will help relieve stress on your shoulders and focus on the task at hand.
Once I got used to standing, my focus and creativity improved, and I could think better and come up with new and better solutions to issues. This is because standing keeps our blood pumping and increases blood flow throughout our bodies. I was invigorated!
Comfy, supportive shoes are a must
I usually wear sneakers to work, but on days when I opted for oxfords or flatter shoes, I could feel it by the evening. Standing for several hours a day puts a strain on you in forms you may not notice right away. Standing all day, or standing for an extended time, poses more risks than sitting all day.
Improved mood and clarity
Let’s say that coming home from work tired, gassy, and with a sore shoulder does not put me in a great mood. After a few weeks, a few people commented on how likable I was at the end of each day. And it wasn’t just my post-work attitude that improved; I was also more productive during the day. A study found that using standing desks was accompanied by significant benefits in executive control and working memory abilities. Furthermore, the researchers discovered a direct link between improvements in overall mental wellbeing.
My back pain lessened
I can assure you that the pain isn’t as noticeable – and scientific proof backs this up. In just two weeks, attendees who used standing desks for 66 minutes of their working day experienced a 54% decrease in upper back and neck pain. My back will require more than a month to heal. But for now, I’m happy with the progress we’ve made.
According to a study conducted, standing dissolves 0.15 calories per minute more than sitting. While this may not appear significant, the calories burned to add up — approximately 54 calories per day for a 150-pound person.
Music made it tolerable
Music seemed to entice me to stand for long periods. It simply diverted my attention away from what was bothering me. The perfect playlist can undoubtedly boost productivity and, in this situation, endurance. According to Inc., those who listened to music accomplished their tasks much faster and had more innovative ideas than those who did not.
Just take it easy
When I first started, I would stand for a few minutes and then sit for a few minutes. Some people may benefit more from jumping right into standing for the entire day, while others may benefit from a rough start. Try it out and see how you feel. Be gentle with your body. Keep in mind that you could choose to forego the office chairs part-time if that works much better for you.
Based on my great experiences with standing desks at work, I intend to use them more frequently in the future. The advantages outweigh the drawbacks, and it appears to be a requirement rather than an option. After a while, you’ll notice that your body is calmer, especially in that strained shoulder and neck region. It’s great to be able to stretch and move around. Your posture will improve dramatically, and you may even feel more empowered to be more active in your spare time. Keep proper posture in mind, use a separate mouse and keyboard when using a laptop, and, most importantly, alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.