Maybe you got a standing desk recently at work or even as a gift, and you wonder about sitting vs. standing while you work. There is a lot of information out there, and it’s hard to tell what the answer really is.
A new study shows us that there may be more benefits to standing than we originally thought. Recent and more definitive studies with a wider pool of individuals shows that standing results in more energy expenditure, but there may be other benefits as well.
This has once again opened the discussion among scientists, chiropractors, and other medical professionals. Here are some of the things we learned, and some tips as well.
Standing Helps Prevent Weight Gain
The latest study by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that standing for six hours a day rather than sitting not only helps to prevent weight gain, but it can also promote weight loss.
Basically, you burn more calories when you stand, in part because you’re using more muscles, but also because when standing, you tend to move around more. This study shows that the average person burns at least 54 more calories a day by standing.
However, there are other benefits as well, but they are also presented with some caution.
Standing is Not For Everyone
First, it is important to understand that standing is not for everyone. If you have joint issues or vascular issues, even some of those due to diabetes, standing might not be the best answer for you.
Other people who are prone to fainting or have certain other medical conditions may not benefit from standing. It can even be harmful. If you have any questions about your ability to stand, be sure to consult with a medical professional before you change your routine.
Sitting for Long Periods of Time is Bad for You
That being said, what we do know is that no matter who you are, sitting for long periods of time is bad for you. Even if you cannot use a standing desk part of the day, you should still get up and walk around frequently. The best way is to set a timer, and take breaks every hour, or even more often. Standing and stretching prevents excessive lumbar pressure, which can result in back pain.
Another more overlooked issue is the extended period of time your hamstrings and abdominal muscles spend contracted or bunched up. This results in reduced flexibility and a weak core, which can lead to back pain and possible injury.
Posture When Standing
The thing about standing is this: standing with poor posture or poor ergonomics is just as hard on your spin as sitting leaned forward for an extended period of time. There are a few simple solutions.
- Make sure your standing desk is the right height for you. Your posture and ergonomics should be similar to when you are sitting with good posture.
- Your shoulders can get sore holding the weight of your arms. Use armrests attached to your desk to support your arms in a good typing position, or adjust your desk to a lower height more natural for your hands, and raise your monitor so that it is eye level. Your monitor should be 20-28” from your eyes, and at a 20-degree tilt.
- Stand on a cushioned, anti-fatigue mat.
- Wear the right shoes. Being barefoot at the office may not be an option, but if you are wearing heels, swap them out of flats or even slippers while standing at your desk.
One final tip: don’t stand for too long without moving or switching to a seated position. A couple of hours at a time is the longest that is recommended. You can get into the same bad habits standing as you do sitting.
Walking Burns More Calories than Standing
When talking about the health benefits of standing, we often fail to mention that while standing more during the day can burn about 54 more calories a day, a walk at lunch will burn over 100. Taking a few frequent walks throughout the day will help even more.
These walks also help you build muscle, stay limber, and can help improve not only your posture but your mood while you are working. A standing desk is great, but don’t stay still for too long. Walk, move around, stay active, and change positions often.
Finding the Right Balance
The truth behind standing desks is that you need a balance. Sitting for long periods can create muscle imbalances. So can standing still. A combination of sitting, standing and walking on breaks is probably the best for most people. So is finding the balance that is right for you. For some, standing six hours a day in two-hour shifts at a time will work best. For others, four hours of standing mixed with frequent walks will be better.
Experiment with your standing desk, start slow at first with half an hour or an hour at a time spent in each position. Mix things up to find what works best for you, your job, and your company.
Have a Spine and Postural Screening
If you have frequent back pain, standing and sitting are not working well for you, or you just think you might need to learn more about better posture and how to prevent those things, schedule a spine and postural screening with your chiropractor. Not only can they help you feel better, but they can recommend the right posture and mix of standing and sitting that will keep you that way.
Standing vs. sitting at work may be an ongoing debate for some time, but it’s likely that standing desks and some mix of standing and sitting will soon become the norm rather than the exception to the rule. If you have questions about what might be right for you, contact us today.