Standing desks have been popular for a few years now, but is it really healthier than sitting? Well, that question has provoked some debate and it is time to clear things up.
First, it is important to look at the negative effects of sitting. Then, we can compare that to standing and make a sound conclusion. Also, check out this video to avoid mistakes when switching to a standing desk.
Why is Sitting Bad for You?
A lot of us sit at a desk all day just to go home and sit while eating dinner, watching television, or reading. That is a lot of sitting and it does not come without health risks. There are a few health risks that you should be aware of.
A sedentary lifestyle spent sitting and laying down may lead to weight gain that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other health issues. This is because sitting burns less calories than standing, especially when you move some while standing.
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In addition, there are several studies that show that a sedentary life can be so damaging that it leads to an earlier death. This is likely a direct effect of the connection between sitting and diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Sitting too much can also diminish your muscle mass and weaken muscles in the hips and the back. Sitting is so damaging that regular exercise may not be enough to counteract the negative health effects that it causes. There is evidence that also suggests that sitting can be bad for our mental health.
Is Standing Good For You?
Standing can obviously reduce the amount of time that we sit and help to promote movement. Not only that, but it can reduce back and neck pain that are related to a sedentary lifestyle. It can be good for productivity and there is a correlation between reduced anxiety and depression and standing. However, standing too much, like sitting too much, seems to be associated with additional health risks.
Standing too much can cause an increase in foot, leg, and even back pain. This is especially true if the body is very used to sitting. Also, standing too much may even increase the risk of heart disease in some people.
Standing too much can even increase the chances that a person will develop heart disease. Instead of choosing standing or sitting, it is best to switch between sitting and standing. It is also a good idea to move around and take short walks periodically throughout each day.
Sitting vs. Standing
So, standing can help to reduce the negative effects of sitting too much. However, standing too much comes with its own risks. So what is the solution? Well, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think, but it begins with the combination of sitting and standing.
Research is clear that a combination of sitting and standing is the best way to avoid health risks that are associated with constantly doing one or the other. However, that prompts the question of how much you should sit and how much you stand. A ratio of 1:1 seems to work well for overall health, but the ratio can also favor sitting at a 2:1 ratio. This means that you should alternate between sitting and standing often throughout the day and stand half us much to the same amount that you sit.
Another consideration is how to begin to use a standing desk. Since your body is probably used to sitting during the workday, you do not want to go from constantly sitting to standing half of the time immediately. Instead, try to ease into standing. Try to stand for 10 to 15 minutes every hour or so. Then, you can gradually increase your standing time until you get to a place that is comfortable.
On a similar note, if your feet or legs begin to hurt from standing too much, decrease the time to allow your body to rest and heal. Then, you can always increase the standing time again.
The most important benefits of a standing desk, and the reason that they can be so much healthier than sitting, comes with their promotion of movement. When we stand we are more likely to move around. During quick breaks you are probably more likely to take a short walk than you would be if you were sitting.
Final Thoughts on Standing Desks Over Sitting
Standing desks can be incredibly healthy, but they do have to be utilized correctly. The negative effects of sitting can be severely damaging, but you also do not want to strain your body by standing too much. Instead, ease into standing more and then alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Finally, try to move around whenever possible to reap the beneficial effects of using a standing desk.