Is it actually better to stand at a desk than to sit? Here’s what the evidence says

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In modern life, many of us spend the majority of our waking hours sitting. A recent review of research has once again highlighted the harmful health effects of prolonged, uninterrupted sitting.

Many workplaces have sit-stand desks that allow you to sit down or stand up with the push of a button or lever to reduce the damage caused by prolonged sitting.

But how much better is standing? And is there a risk of there being too much? Here you’ll find out what research says about the risks of sitting and standing too much and whether it’s worth investing in a sit-stand desk – or forgoing it.

What are the dangers of sitting too much?

People who sit a lot have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, and have a shorter life expectancy.

Sitting for long periods of time can also cause problems with the musculoskeletal system, particularly in the neck and back areas.

Excessive sitting is even more harmful to health in people who exercise very little or do not meet recommended physical activity levels.

Being physically active is important for reducing the health risks associated with sedentary behavior, but may not fully offset the negative effects of sitting for hours every day.

Standing for long periods of time can also be harmful

Standing for long periods of time can be harmful to the health of the musculoskeletal system.

Prolonged standing can cause musculoskeletal symptoms such as muscle fatigue, leg swelling, varicose veins, and pain and discomfort in the lower back and lower extremities (hips, knees, ankles, and feet).

Recent research suggests that limiting standing to about 40 minutes at a time without a break would reduce the likelihood of developing muscle and joint pain from prolonged standing.

This applies to people who may or may not have had symptoms previously.

Not everyone who stands for long periods of time will experience these musculoskeletal symptoms, and some people may be more resilient to the effects of prolonged standing than others.

However, even if you take a break from standing, if you previously developed standing-related pain, you are more likely to experience it again when you stand again.

Break up long periods of sitting

Reducing or breaking up sitting by standing up or moving can improve your blood circulation, metabolism, heart health, mental health and lifespan.

Modeling studies show that replacing one hour of sitting per day with one hour of standing leads to improvements in waist circumference and fat and cholesterol levels.

The benefits are even greater when sitting is replaced with walking or moderate to vigorous activity.

Breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with just two minutes of walking every 20 minutes or five minutes of walking every 30 minutes can improve blood sugar, fat and cholesterol levels.

Other research shows that breaking up prolonged sitting with three minutes of light walking or simple resistance exercises like squats and calf raises every 30 minutes is also effective.

The evidence on sit-stand tables

Sit-stand desks can effectively reduce sitting time during the workday for desk workers. Sit-stand desk users tend to alternate between sitting and standing postures rather than standing for long periods of time.

However, the extent to which a new habit of working while standing is developed varies and many users return to their old sitting way of working in the longer term.

Sit-stand desks alone are not enough to reduce sitting time for desk workers.

Employers and organizations need to incorporate this into their workplace policies, environment and culture to ensure Sit Less and Move More initiatives are implemented and sustained effectively.

Should I give up my sit-stand desk?

If you already have a sit-stand desk, the decision of whether to keep it or abandon it depends on a number of factors.

Think about your usage behavior. Do you regularly use your desk while standing or do you mainly use it while sitting?

Think about your comfort. Does standing or sitting for long periods of time while working cause discomfort or fatigue in your body?

In this case, you may need to adjust your sit-stand routine or incorporate additional supports, such as: B. a floor mat for more comfortable standing or a footrest for safe sitting to avoid injuries.

Evaluate the ergonomics of your desk. Is your sit-stand desk ergonomically set up so that you can work both sitting and standing? Proper ergonomics are essential so that you can work safely and comfortably in the office and at home.

Think about your health needs. Will reducing and interrupting extended periods of sitting by standing relieve the discomfort caused by sitting or help improve your metabolism and heart health?

Getting up and moving regularly throughout the workday will provide you with similar benefits regardless of the type of desk you have.

If you have a medical condition or persistent musculoskeletal symptoms, consult a healthcare professional or ask your employer about arranging an assessment by an ergonomics specialist.

Expert advice can help you make an informed decision about your sit-stand desk.

Finally, weigh the cost and space requirements of your sit-stand desk. If you don’t use it standing up often, perhaps it just takes up space and doesn’t provide a return on your investment?

Ultimately, the decision to keep or abandon your sit-stand desk comes down to weighing these considerations.

The most important thing is to be physically active

Physical activity guidelines from governments and health authorities, such as those in Australia and the World Health Organization, recommend that adults limit the amount of time they spend sitting. Interrupting and replacing sitting time with physical activity of any intensity – even light intensity – has health benefits.

The WHO also recommends adults “aim for more than recommended levels of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity” to reduce the harmful health effects of intense sitting.

In other words, just standing is not enough to reduce the damage caused by sitting for long periods of time. We need to sit less and move more.

Written by Josephine Chau. The conversation.

If exercise is important to you, be sure to read the studies on exercise hormones that can help stop Parkinson’s symptoms and the findings that planks and wall sits are best for lowering blood pressure – here are six more reasons. why they are such great exercises.

For more information on high blood pressure, see current studies on more efficient methods of treating high blood pressure Natural Blood Pressure Regulators: 12 Foods That Lower Blood Pressure.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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