Since entering the workplace I have seen more and more people stand while working. I’ve always thought how uncomfortable that must be to stand all day. At AMPED I’ve seen a few of my colleagues hack their own standing desks, while some have adjustable desks. All the hype about standing verses sitting, and now even lying down, at work made me wonder what’s really the best for you?
Standing vs sitting research
Over the last decade there have been numerous studies conducted on the health benefits of standing while working, including lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This is because when you are standing you are using muscles in your legs and abdomen which consume sugar and can lower cholesterol. In addition, researchers suggest too much sitting leads to more disability as we age and can even shorten our lifespan. As a result of these findings, there has been a 50 percent increase in sales of standing desks over the last year. Standing desk manufacturers are pushing the common belief that their product will eliminate the “sitting disease” and health problems caused from sitting an average of nine out of 14 waking hours each day.
Sitting vs standing research
While many organizations are following the “trend” of standing desks, can they be sure they’re receiving the right message? Occupational health specialists now fear that many office workers have taken research suggestions too far. Specialists are finding many workers believe standing in one place, rather than sitting, will improve their heart, reduce weight, and fight off other negative effects associated with sitting too much. However, they caution that standing all day is not the best answer. Prolonged standing can lead to issues such as curvature of the spine, varicose veins and backaches. Researchers state that although standing does burn a few more calories because our heart has to work harder to circulate blood, it also puts more strain on our back, joints and veins.
And lastly, lying down
Recently introduced to the market is the Altwork Station. This workstation allows users the flexibility to sit, stand and lie down using four modes: standing, collaboration, regular and focus. However, they are really pushing the “focus” mode, when the chair is completely reclined and the desk and monitor follow. The idea behind the Altwork Station is that individuals need multiple configurations throughout the day to complete different tasks. More specifically, individuals need the product’s “focus” mode to complete tasks they need to intensely focus on. The main drive behind this creation is that the way people sit at desks hasn’t evolved since the late 1800s and that today’s workers need a variety of positions in order to increase efficiency.
So what’s right?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you this answer. Studies have not yet determined how much standing verses sitting helps in regard to your health. Research is still being conducted to try to find the answer for all of us desk users. Until an answer is determined, it is recommended that workers incorporate a combination of sitting, standing and walking. Researchers are suggesting that, instead of standing still or sitting all day, we sit 20 out of every 30 minutes at work, stand for eight minutes, and then move around for two. For some of you this may sound easy; others may find this pretty challenging! For those who are up for this 20-8-2 challenge, set an alarm on your phone or a timer on your computer to follow these guidelines. And hey, if you are successful with this it means you will be standing up and sitting down 32 times in a workday which has benefits of its own. For those of you who are not up for this challenge, try to increase your movement throughout the workday by planning a walk at lunch, taking a lap around the office, getting up to fill your water bottle, or, for us at the AMPED headquarters whose historic building has no elevator, climbing all of the stairs to our third-floor office.