Standing desks are the latest trend in office furniture. Sound uncomfortable? Maybe that’s sort of the idea. Americans are big on comfort. We lounge on comfy sofas while watching TV. We wear sweats and yoga pants in the evenings and on the weekends. We sleep on pillow top mattresses. All in the name of comfort.
But what is happening to us… in the name of comfort? We are overweight, out of shape, and just plain unhealthy. And, we are actually getting comfortable with that as our lot in life. As a result, our overall health as a nation is suffering and our personal health is deteriorating.
So what’s the deal with standing desks? Plenty. According to Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, “The way we live now is to sit all day, occasionally punctuated by a walk from the parking lot to the office. The default has become to sit. We need the default to be standing.” Levine and other scientists have concluded that a sedentary lifestyle appears to be detrimental in the long-term. Standing desks, they say, can help to counter this problem.
Research has shown that the long-term effects of sitting all day, year after year, contributes to a wide range of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Experts say that the solution isn’t to sit for 6 hours or more at work and then head to the gym afterward. In fact, the evidence suggests that brief bouts of exercise cannot undo the hours of sitting down on the job.
If you’re wondering about how you can manage to work and stand all day, not to worry. Most experts actually recommend splitting your time between standing and sitting. Standing all day can lead to back, knee, or foot problems. They also stress that, at first, you ease into your use of a standing desk for a just a few hours a day so your body can adjust accordingly.
So are standing desks the answer to America’s health problems? Well, they can potentially help to make a difference. While it is also important to include other forms of movement into your work day–such as pacing while you’re on the phone or walking around the office while brainstorming–standing at your desk is probably the easiest and most practical way to keep your blood flowing while at work.
And who knows? Maybe you’ll even take comfort in knowing you’re doing something good for yourself…and your long-term health.