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Some habits can simply be made or broken all at once, but others need training and a gradual buildup. In general, any major physical lifestyle changes should be eased into, whether it’s changing your workplace posture or the kinds of food you eat. We’re all used to the tired, sore feeling of unusual physical activity, but we tend to restrict our associations to working out at the gym, or moving between apartments, for example.
The recent media furor (which is commonplace nowadays in the world of media sensationalism and ‘fake news’) of a study of just 20 people would have you believe that there are in fact no benefits to standing more often and it can actually be harmful. This of course is losing sight of the bigger picture of overall wellness and forming healthy habits.
Changing how you use your body in the workplace will be easier, more comfortable, and healthier if you do it with the same intention and awareness that you would use for lifting weights or training for a marathon.
It’s a little odd, frankly, that we spend so much time sitting down at work, but receive no training about how to do so without harming our health. At the gym, a personal trainer will teach you how to use your body correctly to avoid injury and maximize benefit. Any other job that requires physical labor should provide adequate training and resources about how to do so safely, and often, health benefits and insurance to deal with any injuries or illnesses that might be caused as a result of the work. But despite the fact that so many of us spend so many hours sitting down at work, how many of us receive training on how to do so?
It’s wise to approach working at a standing desk like running a marathon, with mindfulness and training—just as we probably should for sitting for long stretches of time!
A Reasonable Comparison
BBC, together with the University of Chester, conducted an experiment to determine the health benefits of standing at work. A group of people stood for three hours a day for a week, wearing accelerometers to monitor their movement, as well as heart rate and glucose monitors. The results were remarkable. The heart rate of the volunteers was about 10 beats per minute higher than that of seated workers, which can burn about 30,000 extra calories over the course of a year, and shed about 8 pounds of fat. Dr. Buckley, one of the researchers involved with the experiment, estimates that this is about the equivalent of running not just one marathon per year, but ten.
Big Changes, Small Steps
It’s a great idea to train to use a standing desk, or to ease into it like into running a marathon (we’ve provided some tips on getting started here). And luckily, you’ll still be reaping the benefits of making the switch even when you smart with small steps. We experience the health benefits of standing up at work even for just a few minutes at a time. So as we gradually build up from standing for a few minutes a day, to a few minutes of every hour, to standing for long chunks of our days, we’re also gradually improving our health.
Training for a marathon is much the same. As we train our bodies and get used to running for longer stretches, we are getting stronger and healthier, becoming more capable of reaching our goals while our overall health improves, too.
Standing for three hours a day is the equivalent of ten marathons a year, and standing for two hours is shown to lower BMI, trim the waist, and raise good cholesterol. Even standing for just a minute or two, every twenty minutes or half hour, raises the heart rate, burns calories, and reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Making Informed Choices
It’s always better to make decisions based on research and information. Luckily, there’s no shortage of research and education that can help you on your path to workplace health. Zen Space Desks provides access to much of this education, providing you with the tools to sit or stand for long periods of time with less risk and greater payoff.
You’ve already decided to treat your body kindly by avoiding the health risks associated with sitting for too long. Why not do so as safely and effectively as possible? Train for it like a marathon – with intention, motivation, and gradual changes. You’ll build good habits, avoid burning out and you’ll be growing healthier all the while. Training to stand makes such good sense that we wonder why we don’t train to sit down all day!