Standing desks help lower blood pressure by increasing blood flow, improving heart rate, and increasing energy expenditure.
Replacing sedentary work with standing work decompresses blood vessels in the muscles, allowing blood to flow more freely and reducing stress on the heart.
Because hypertension increases your risk for secondary issues, it is important to find suitable ways to maintain proper blood pressure.
Keep reading as we explore how standing desks help blood pressure, how you can build on these benefits, and what you should watch out for.
Risks of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, leads to additional problems, such as:
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Higher likelihood to develop heart failure
- Chest pain
- Kidney damage
- Vision problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Increased risk of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
- Higher risks of hypertensive crisis
While lower blood pressure is also a concern, it is not as prevalent as hypertension and does not lead to as many issues that threaten vitality.
Sedentary Work and Blood Pressure
The term “sitting disease” refers to the plethora of health issues that come from a sedentary lifestyle, many of which affect the cardiovascular system.
When you sit, you hold the muscles in your neck and shoulders in a fixed position, sometimes for hours at a time.
This compresses the blood vessels in these areas, even if you sit with proper posture, and limits the flow of blood throughout your body.
Read More >> Do Standing Desks Help Posture?
This issue also occurs in your glutes as gravity pulls you down, and the flow through your legs diminishes as the vessels compress.
Sitting requires less muscular effort and leads to fatigue. As your body engages with natural processes less and less, your heart works hard to pump blood through these areas, and it’s usually an uphill climb.
The pressure increases because of the smaller channels to pump through and the extra force from the heart.
These issues cycle, leading to prolonged cases of high blood pressure caused (in part) by sitting at work for extended periods, and they will compound until proper intervention takes place.
How Standing Desks Help Blood Pressure
Switching part of your work to a standing desk can help bring down and regulate blood pressure by limiting these factors.
When you stand, you experience less compression, particularly in your glutes, and your vessels remain open to allow an adequate flow of blood through.
This, combined with increased energy expenditure, increases the heart’s ability to function properly and leads to compound benefits.
Understand that a standing desk can only help regulate blood pressure when used correctly, and it does not replace medical intervention for dire cases of hypertension.
Using a standing desk can increase the effectiveness of other treatments and prevent issues from developing, but it should not be used as a treatment plan on its own.
Read More >> How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?
Increasing Blood Flow:
While sitting compresses your vessels and restricts proper blood flow, standing opens them up and allows blood to flow through freely.
This change occurs as quickly as 90 seconds after standing as cellular and muscular systems recognize the change and make the appropriate adjustment.
Studies also show that making a habit of standing throughout your workday helps dilate and strengthen your vessels, reducing compression when you take a break to sit and improving blood flow at this time.
Standing prevents fatty acids from building up in your blood vessels and limits your chance of developing heart disease that diminishes proper blood flow.
Increasing Energy Expenditure:
While it is not as drastic as dedicated exercise, the energy that you spend while standing paves the road for improved blood pressure.
Compared to sitting, your whole body makes constant adjustments you probably are not aware of. This occurs as you adapt to:
- The changing position of the earth
- Subconscious muscle fatigue
- Accomplishing different styles of tasks
These changes occur to some degree while sitting, but the energy you spend while standing increases significantly.
This allows you to burn a few more calories while standing, but it also offers other benefits, like improving heart strength and conditioning your body for the task.
Improving Heart Rate:
It may seem backward, but when your heart does not need to do as much work to push blood through your body, it strengthens and improves your heart rate.
The extra work puts unnecessary stress on your heart, and it doesn’t get any stronger. It increases the risk of injuries due to strain and raises your chances of developing heart disease.
When your heart does its work in the right environment, it develops its skills properly and prevents these issues from happening.
A strong, healthy heart is much more effective at maintaining proper blood pressure than one that is facing an uphill climb.
Negative Effects of Standing Desks on Blood Pressure
While decreased blood pressure is common with standing desk usage, it is not guaranteed.
Some users experience higher levels of stress while using a standing desk, and it has the opposite effect on them.
Consulting your doctor before adding a standing desk to your treatment plan is important, especially if you already deal with cardiovascular issues such as hypertension.
Apart from these exceptions, most of the negative effects of standing desks on blood pressure stem from improper use.
Standing all day has as many harmful effects on your health as sitting all day, and it can lead to chronic pain in areas like your lower back and legs.
To prevent these issues, make sure you incorporate a standing desk into your routine in small bursts, especially if you don’t lead an active lifestyle.
A few minutes here and there are better than sitting all day, and these lead to proper alternating between sedentary and standing work.
Make sure you stand straight at your desk without locking your knees. Proper posture is essential for proper blood flow, and locking your knees or tensing your muscles constrain the vessels.
Pay attention to pain; it almost always indicates you’re doing something wrong.
Read More >> Should You Use a Standing Desk All Day?
Alternate Between Sitting and Standing to Help Blood Pressure
The ideal ratio of sitting time to standing time sits between 1:1 and 1:2. This means you should sit no more than half the time you spend working.
Alternating between sitting and standing prevents your body from spending too much time in one position, limiting the strain on certain muscle groups and encouraging your body to adapt to the conditions.
Read More >> Do Standing Desks Build Muscle?
Don’t worry if you aren’t here yet; everyone starts at a different position and encounters a unique journey.
As long as you’re moving forward, you will experience the benefits to a certain degree.
Physical Activity with a Standing Desk to Improve Blood Pressure
You should also take breaks from your workstation throughout the day. Head out for a short walk every hour or two. Go to the bathroom, go get water, or go check in with a coworker.
Not only does this get your blood flowing in a new way, but it improves your mood and helps reset your concentration.
If you insist on staying in your office, consider keeping a treadmill or an under-desk bike to give you a chance to boost your heart rate, burn more calories, and lower your blood pressure.