We’ve all heard that expression “Sitting is the new smoking”, but do you know what that really means? In essence, it translates into “sitting is going to kill you!” The human body wasn’t designed to spend so many hours on its butt. While sitting is more comfortable than standing all day long, it takes its toll on the spine, lower body muscles, and joints. For those who spend many hours in sedentary tasks, it can lead to health problems. THAT is why you need to stand at work!
The Science of Standing
A study out of Texas A&M University found that people who worked at standing desks—desks that could be adjusted from standing to sitting and vice versa—were 45% more productive than those who remained seated all day long. The participants of the study worked at a call center, and were accustomed to sitting for 6-10 hours per day. But when they started standing more, they became more effective at their jobs.
The Downside of Sitting
You have no idea how much of a toll sitting takes on your body! It may sound silly, but it’s true. Prolonged sitting can lead to lack of motivation, fatigue, and bone, muscle, and tendon issues. The postural effects (on your spine, neck, and shoulders) are very noticeable, especially for those who sit incorrectly. Even ergonomic desks and chairs fail to correct or prevent the damage caused by excessive hours of sitting. Sitting reduces blood flow in the body, meaning your brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to function at 100%. You may find yourself suffering from decreased attention span and focus, and your productivity may decrease as well.
The Upside of Standing
Standing, on the other hand, can help to INCREASE your productivity and focus—by a significant margin, as the study proved. Standing helps to increase your physical activity, yet the activity is light enough that you’re not using up vast quantities of energy. Spending time on your feet encourages better blood flow through your entire body, including the muscles of your lower body that would be atrophying if you were sitting down. The increase in blood flow leads to better brain function, and you will notice more activity in your pre-frontal cortex: the part of your brain that controls attention and concentration. Standing also focuses on your brain on the activities it’s currently trying to complete, leading to better performance of that task.
The Long-Term Benefits
Not only will standing up help to make you more efficient in the short-term, but you will see A LOT of long term effects. The above-mentioned study found that the people who obtained the best results continued to use the standing desks for up to six months, rather than just two. Not only did they perform better and have better concentration for the task at hand, but they showed better results in terms of posture and circulation.
Should You Always Stand?
You’ll be glad to hear the answer is no. In the study, the people with standing desks only stood for 100 minutes of their day—1 hour and 40 minutes. That’s less than ¼ of their work day spent on their feet. They were still able to spend time sitting down, but they included more activity in their day by spending it on their feet. They saw amazing results with just a small amount of time standing. If you want to be more productive, improve your posture, and prevent the degradation of your spine, neck, and lower body muscles, spend more time standing!