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We are made to move. Our bodies are designed for activities like running, jumping, and swimming, and a sedentary lifestyle is a hazard to the health. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death globally, attributing 3.2 million annual deaths to insufficient physical activity. Sitting around all day is surprisingly hard on the heart, and comes with a lot of other health risks.
With the rise of office jobs and ease of access to public transportation, billions of our once-active human bodies sit sedentary all day. We drive to work, sit at an office desk all day, and then come home and sit on the couch to read, watch television, and use our computers for another few hours. The average person sits for an average of 12 hours a day. Assuming that we sleep for another 8 hours, in total that means that 20 out of 24 hours per day are completely sedentary.
Now more than ever, it’s necessary to be intentional about activity. Fortunately, we can make simple changes to our habits to maintain healthier lifestyles. Walking and biking to work are both good options, as is adopting an after-office workout regimen. But most of our sedentary hours happen while we’re at work, and exercise doesn’t cancel out those hours—though research does show that an hour of exercise a day does go a long way towards counteracting the damage done by hours of sitting.
How Long Should I Stand At My Standing Desk?
|Week 1||Stand for 5 minutes every 30 minutes|
|Week 2||Stand for 5 minutes every 25 minutes|
|Week 3||Stand for 5 minutes every 20 minutes|
|Week 4||Stand for 10 minutes every 30 minutes|
|Week 5||Stand for 10 minutes every 20 minutes|
|Week 6||Stand for 15 minutes every 30 minutes|
We recommend starting the transition to standing with a 6-week ‘on-ramp’ program, to allow your body to ‘learn to stand’
Switching to a standing desk isn’t easy, and it will behoove you to make the change gradually over time. Starting small and slow is a great way to ensure that the changes you make stick with you and that you can effectively build real habits that will pass the test of time. Standing desks utilize an entirely different set of muscles—ones that you might not be used to using, especially if you are used to using a standard seated workstation in your office. Switching too quickly can give you sore feet, sore legs and claudication, and it’s not clear yet what the long-term future effects of prolonged standing are.
Avoid burning out by trying to stand for too long. Standing is a fitness and will need to be slowly introduced to ensure negative effects of standing too much don’t take effect. Follow the above program building up from 5 minutes an hour, to 10 or 15 minutes, until eventually, you are standing for 30 minutes out of every hour.
Learn to listen to your body, as it will tell you what it needs. Take breaks when you need them. This is about your physical and mental health, after all, so this is a good time to pay attention to the mental and physical cues that will help you find an appropriate balance when using your sit and stand desk.
4 Tips For Transitioning To A Standing Desk
Stand in Comfort
“When your feet hurt, everything hurts!” Standing on hard surfaces such as concrete (even those with a thin layer of carpet) can cause body fatigue, discomfort, and even lower back pain. Discomfort and pain come from no or very limited flexibility in the ground creating a static standing position. This can easily be solved by resting one foot on a small platform, utilising a balance board or one of our anti-fatigue stand mats. These mats improve standing comfort, encouraging and making it easier to stand comfortably for longer.
Eventually, when you’re comfortable switching between sitting and standing for meaningful stretches of time, you can make yourself a timed routine. Try dividing up your hours, standing for 30 minutes, sitting for 20, and then getting up to walk around for 10 minutes. If smaller increments of time make you more productive, you can divide half-hour blocks into 15 minutes of standing, 10 minutes of sitting, and 5 minutes of breaks. Be creative, mix it up, and don’t worry too much about it. As long as you’re moving around and switching it up between sitting and standing, you’re doing it right. Science says it takes somewhere between three weeks and two months to form a new habit, so keep at it and you won’t even need a reminder soon enough.
Even small changes make a big difference. Standing for just five minutes restarts your metabolism, which slows after less than an hour of sitting. Some studies show that taking a five-minute walking break can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases that prolonged sitters are prone to. And there’s a whole host of office stretches and exercises that you can—and should—practice during breaks to keep your body in motion. Every little bit counts, so don’t be overwhelmed, and do be proud of yourself for making small changes. Your body will thank you for them!
Watch your posture
The whole point of switching to a standing desk is to improve your health, so it defeats the purpose if you maintain poor posture even standing up. Most of us are familiar with “desk neck,” which can have ripple effects throughout the entire body. Poor posture at a desk can cause more than a stiff neck. It can drift down the shoulders to cause back problems, and back problems can affect the entire body, from cephalgia to difficulties breathing.
Though standing desks make it much easier to maintain good posture, it’s still important to pay attention to your body position. Don’t undermine your efforts when you’ve already committed to your health. Always avoid slumping forwards and craning your neck, which are the key culprits in office health problems.
It is critical to position your desk and computer both at the appropriate height. Though this may seem like a given, it can be less obvious where your desk should be positioned relative to your body. The same for sitting and standing. Keep your arms at a loose 90 degree angle. Keep your monitor at eye level, to avoid looking up or down at it, which leads to neck and back soreness.
To aid posture, while de-cluttering your desk we suggest utilising one of our adjustable monitor arms to keep your computer screen and or laptop at the correct heights. You can view our range here.
Standing desks ease your neck, but come with a few of their own unique body quirks and there are pros and cons for both desk types. If you already have poor standing posture, it won’t vanish at a standing desk. Many people favor a foot or a hip, leaning the majority of their weight on the other. Others fold forwards, slumping their neck and shoulders. It’s a good idea to pay attention to these posture habits and correct them to optimize your office health.
Choose Appropriate Shoes
Don’t forget your feet! High heels make great office shoes if you’re only standing up for lunch breaks and bathroom trips. But at a standing desk, practical shoes are a must. Standing in heels all day is terrible for your feet, your legs, and your spine, and will do more harm than good.
Health Is The Priority
Though making the transition to a sit-stand desk can be a bit of a challenge, the benefits are well worth the effort. Minimize your work with these simple tips to ease yourself into a healthier lifestyle. Don’t forget that your health is the goal and priority here, so always maintain good posture, whether you’re sitting or standing. Don’t fall back into slumping and slouching. With a new routine and some scheduling, you can build new and healthy habits with lasting health benefits, that will improve your quality of life and can even lengthen your life!