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You lift, you run, you eat healthy foods, all in an effort to enhance your appearance, performance well-being. But there’s one thing you may doing each day that’s wreaking havoc on your physical and mental health—sitting. That’s right, something as seemingly benign as the act of sitting could slowly be taking years off your life.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the average American adult sits between 9 to 10 hours a day, mostly behind a desk at work. Not only is this sedentary time detrimental to your daily functioning, it’s also been shown to reduce the number of years you live.
The study went on to note that even if a person completes the recommended daily 30-minutes of exercise; the amount of time spent sitting all day, still substantially affects the mortality rate. In addition, People that sit the most have a 112% increase in the Relative Risk (RR) of Diabetes and a 147% increase in the RR of cardiovascular events compared to people who sit down the least. Overall mortality is increased by 50%. Sitting down has similar mortality rates to smoking. Need more proof, the same BJSM article also noted that the likelihood of getting certain types of cancer are also increased with exhibiting sedentary behavior on a daily basis.
In a Peak Fitness by Mercola article, Dr. James Levine, author of the book Get Up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It makes the case for sitting less and moving more. “I think it’s correct to say we’re in the middle of a stand up movement, but the emphasis needs to be on movement. I don’t want people to think that they should stand up like still soldiers. That is not a good idea. Yet, when you make a conscious effort to stand up instead of sit, such as by using a standing work-station, you’ll probably move more naturally as well.”
So why is a standing work desk a good way to go. “When somebody gets a standing desk, they generally stand for several hours a day. But they don’t stand still. They generally move from leg to leg and change their body posture quite a lot. That weight-bearing and adjustment of weight-bearing has a whole series of physiological benefits to the musculature, the balance in musculature, the visual cortex, the testicular system, and so on,” says Dr. Levine.
Research by Dr. Levine and colleagues showed, for instance, that the installation of sit-stand desks reduced sitting time during a 40-hour workweek by eight hours and reduced sedentary time by 3.2 hours. Further, the participants enjoyed having the option of a sit-stand desk, which was also associated with increased sense of well-being and energy, and decreased fatigue.
Jon Paulsen, Certified Professional Ergonomist and CEO of The Human Solution—a leading company that manufactures UPLIFT adjustable standing desks – further supports the findings. “People just sit too much every day. It’s not how we evolved. Common sense leads me to believe that moving more is just better for your health and performance. Along with getting your blood moving and burning more calories per hour, you get to sit and stand at your ideal posture with an adjustable desk, which leads to greater comfort and improved productivity.”
It’s findings like this that have led innovative companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook to switch over to adjustable sit-stand desks in their workspace. These industry leaders see the many benefits a sit-stand desk has to offer their workers and how that translates into better performance on the job. “Once employees use a sit-stand desk for a while they don’t want to go to a company that forces them to sit in a chair all day. Why trap your workers in their seats for 6 hours when you can let them work at the proper height,” says Paulsen. Throw in the fact that these desks are now much more affordable—UPLIFT’s start at $499—and it’s clear to see why more and more companies are beginning to use them instead of the traditional sitting desk,” he says. And because you’re emphasis is on standing and moving, there’s really no need for an expensive ergonomic chair.
So what advice does Paulsen have for those making the transition to an adjustable standing desk? When getting started it’s people’s feet that seem to get tired first, he says. “Sitting down for a few minutes before getting back on your feet is recommended, as is standing on a cushioned mat.”
Finally, Paulsen stresses the importance of not using a standing ONLY desk—one that doesn’t adjust to a seated height. “You can’t stand for 6 hours a day. It’s not comfortable and you won’t be as productive.” When you get tired on your feet you need to relax and sit for a few minutes, which is why a height adjustable sit-stand desk is definitely the way to go.”