For most professionals, sitting at a desk all day is just a part of doing business. We sit for hours at a time, working on our computers without even standing up, let alone taking regular breaks.
As is more and more discussed, remaining sedentary for most of the day can present certain health risks.
And even if you’re active while you’re sitting (e.g. grabbing files, rolling around in an office chair, or adjusting devices), your lower half remains inactive.
Why Is It Bad To Sit All Day Long?
Our bodies are designed for movement, not for prolonged periods of physical inactivity. An inactive lifestyle can lead not just to seemingly innocuous things like “dead butt syndrome,” but also to more serious health conditions.
Dead butt syndrome is the colloquial description for a vague discomfort or pain when sitting for long periods, which is caused by a weakening of the gluteus medius muscle (one of the three main muscles in the buttock).
Perhaps more worrisome, several studies have indicated a significant association between sitting all day and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Some have even called sitting the new smoking.
Other research shows that long hours of sitting are linked with a higher risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cancer (especially cancers of the colon or breast)
- Premature death
Pretty scary stuff.
The good news is there is a relatively easy solution to the problem of inactivity: the standing desk.
What Are The Health Benefits of Using a Standing Desk?
One of the more cited health benefits of a standing desk is that it helps you burn more calories than sitting all day.
Although the difference in calories burned between sitting versus standing isn’t particularly noteworthy (standing burns around 88 calories per hour while remaining sedentary only burns about 80), psychologically speaking, you’re more likely to move (e.g. walk to your co-worker’s office to deliver a message rather than sending an email), which is a good thing.
And while sitting at work is bad, not moving is worse. So anything that encourages movement is a good thing!
Standing desks have also been credited with treating back pain since standing tends to improve posture and takes the pressure off of your neck and lower back and can help with shoulder pain.
Some studies have shown that standing after a meal lowers glucose readings and allows blood sugars to return back to normal more quickly.
Standing Desks for Beginners
Bearing in mind that like most “interventions,” using a standing desk for long periods of time after having been generally sedentary during your day can have side effects like back, leg, or foot pain.
That’s why it’s a good idea to slowly ease into using your standing desk. Say, using it for 30 minutes a day for the first week, and 60 minutes a day the following week, and increasing intervals gradually until you’re able to stand for most of the day.
Some people find it helpful to set a timer to remind them to stand for a period of time throughout the day. (If you notice your concentration or level of creativity falls as a result of these interruptions, you may want to try a different approach).
When to See Your Doctor
While a standing desk is a worthwhile solution for some sedentary people with back and neck problems, pain that is progressive and inhibits your ability to work is a strong signal you may want to call your doctor.
The doctors at South Orange Chiropractic Center are committed to treating back, neck, shoulder, headache, and sciatica pain for people in the South Orange and New Jersey area (including Maplewood, Milburn, Summit, and West Orange, NJ). If you’re interested in discussing how your pain may be the result of a sedentary lifestyle, we’d love to talk!