Stand Your Way to a Healthier You
The notion of a sit/stand desk has become more than a buzzword in the workplace; for most companies, it’s now a normal sight in the office. This trend is here to stay, particularly as sit/stand equipment becomes more available from manufacturers around the globe. Why have people opted to get sit/stand desks?
The following four benefits are just some of the reasons behind the sit/stand movement — and while there are further reasons than what’s listed below, these are significant enough to convince any facility manager or HR supervisor that they should start stocking sit/stand desks.
Reason #1: A Natural Posture
Sitting on a chair is not a natural position. Sitting on a chair at a workstation, with arms extended and head focused, is definitely not a natural position. Human beings have evolved over millions of years, but the invention of the modern office is relatively recent history — and the use of computers as a standard tool only goes back a few decades. In short, sitting at a desk for long periods of time while staring at a screen isn’t the way our bodies are supposed to work.
In fact, it’s simple physiology: the way the spine is positioned when sitting is completely different when standing, and that demonstrates the unnatural deviations the body is subjected to. The impact on that means all sorts of things are pulled out of place, leading to things such as impinged nerves, muscle tightness, and other issues that can create health problems.
In a best case scenario, the body follows all rules of natural ergonomics while at a desk. That means things like using a foot rest, setting a screen at proper height, bending elbows at a natural 90-degree angle, and so on. But human beings have a tendency to slouch when focusing on a screen, and that slouching can create all sorts of bad habits as it becomes muscle memory.
The result? Strain on the neck and shoulders, more pressure on your spine, and since the musculoskeletal system is a series of pulleys, and ripple effect up and down your body. The worse your posture is, the greater the impact on your body — and if you took a snapshot of an office worker randomly sampled across the modern world, that posture will probably be pretty bad. The simple solution? Stand.
Reason #2: Stronger Attention
We’ve all heard jokes about needing a nap after lunch. Now here’s an experiment to try — after eating lunch, try staying on your feet for twenty minutes. Chances are, you won’t feel nearly as drowsy. Why is that? Simple: when you’re sitting, your body is at rest, and in fact, calorie-burning drops down to only 1 calorie per minute. When your body rests, everything slows down, including brain function due to less oxygen and less blood. The less demand you put on your body, the easier it is to lose your focus and let drowsiness overtake it.
Now, what changes when you stand? Standing engages a series of muscles, from your core all the way down to your feet. This means your body is working, and even if you’re not running in place or doing jumping jacks, your body is burning calories and pumping blood and generally working harder than it is when you’re sitting. That all leads to a stronger sense of focus and awareness, and if you’re trying to get something done quickly, efficiently, accurately, and safely, being at peak focus and awareness is the way to do it.
So, putting aside all of the medical and physiological reasons why you tend to feel more sleepy when sitting, just know this: it’s much easier to stay on task and get the job done when you’re standing.
Reason #3: Atrophy, or Lack Thereof
When you’re sedentary, your muscles atrophy. That’s not exactly news, but the fact that humans spend most of our week in an office working on a computer shows that we’re putting ourselves in positions to fail when it comes to physical fitness.
What may be shocking is just how quickly muscles atrophy when the body is sedentary. For the modern office worker that’s locked into a desk with emails, spreadsheets, and other standard software, it’s easy for someone to sit down and not move for hours on end other than typing or using a mouse — even more so for those in the tech industry.
On the other hand, sit/stand desks allow for two key types of muscle engagement:
- First, there’s the transition between the two, which creates dynamic motion — and if you’re doing it right, you’re taking at least a short walk when you switch between either.
- Second, there’s the physical act of standing. Standing isn’t exactly a vigorous workout; you’re not going to get six-pack abs or be marathon ready just because you stand for an hour doing office work. However, standing and maintaining a healthy posture does engage quite a few muscles in the pulley system of your body. That engagement means that the muscles are working, even if just a little bit, and that staves off muscle atrophy.
Reason #4: Generally Better Health
The above items are all paths to stronger mental and physical health. But while we talk about specific things there, let’s also step back and observe the bigger picture — using a sit/stand desk makes your body healthier. Why? Consider some of these internal benefits:
- Circulation: Increased circulation is better for everything — your muscles, your brain function, your heart. By increasing the blood flow throughout your body, you’re ensuring that things stay in tip-top shape; the opposite, when circulation is poor, can lead to swelling, clots, and limiting red blood cells to your vital organs.
- Reducing heart disease risk: Standing also increases your heart rate, which limits the amount of fatty deposits that wind up clogging arteries.
- Lower blood sugar and cholesterol: Studies have shown that a number of internal systems and processes activate within 90 seconds of standing up, including those that process blood sugar and cholesterol.
How to Best Use Sit/Stand Desks
Of course, the goal isn’t to stand eight hours a day. The ideal solution is to break up standing with sitting every 30-60 minutes — and the latest trend in office furniture is to use an ergonomic stool rather than a chair. This makes it much easier to get back up into standing without sinking into a comfy chair. Fortunately, modern technology has developed apps for our devices that help us keep track of when to switch. The trick to using them? When they beep and tell you to change positions, don’t just swipe away the notification and go on with your day!
What sit/stand desks are the best fit for your office? Contact the experts at MB Contract Furniture. With our showroom and team of experienced designers, the latest in ergonomic sit/stand desks are just a call away.