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Should You Get a Standing Desk to Reduce Sedentary Lifestyle? Standing Vs. Sitting

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We spend at least half of our time awake sitting. Whether working at a desk, driving, eating, or watching a TV show, our bum is on something. And well, that’s not really ideal for your health and longevity. In this post, we’ll discuss if spending more time standing, for example, using a standing desk, can reduce a sedentary lifestyle. Get ready to go, Beyond Sapiens!

Should You Get a Standing Desk to Reduce Sedentary Lifestyle? Standing Vs. Sitting | Beyond Sapiens

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The Dangers of Inactivity

So why should you consider optimizing your work position? If you think about it, you spend a third, if not half, of your 24h working. Should you not pay attention to the quality of how you spend this time and its effects on your health?

Studies show that inactivity is the primary cause of chronic diseases. Regardless of your position or setup, sedentary behavior increases the risk of many health outcomes and even shortens lifespan. How? Our bodies are made to move, and when we are inactive, our bodies adapt to that, which literally affects every cell, organ, and system in our body, causing illness and promoting shortened lifespan.

However, the effects start showing far before that. The increased risk for diseases often starts slowly showing up as symptoms of physical pain or mental issues directly impacting your work productivity and performance. Would you have thought that sitting or being inactive could have both short-term and long-term effects? I mean, we should totally focus more on our working posture and habits.

Movement is the best cure for any health outcome, so how can we get more of it into our days? 

Standing Desk as a Solution for Staying More Active While Working?

We don’t know about you, but we want to stay as far as possible from all of those short-term and long-term negative effects. As mentioned, the fix is being more active during the day. Given that we spend most of our time awake working, could using a standing desk be a possible solution? Let’s see what science has to say.

Standing desk
Could using a standing desk be a solution

A meta-analysis published by the European Society of Cardiology went through 658 studies about the topic and concluded that when we are standing, we burn 0.15kcal/min more than when we’re sitting. This means that if you’d replace 6 hours of sitting with 6 hours of standing, you’d burn 54 extra kcal per day.

Yes, it’s a tiny number, but as we’ve recently talked about, you start seeing the power of habits when you compound them over time. In fact, that extra 54 kcal burned translates into potentially burning 2.5kg of body fat in 1 year. Not bad, right? Using a standing desk can also benefit the business world, which is part of our mission here at Beyond Sapiens.

Standing desk
Implementing standing desks in workplaces to increase wellbeing and productivity

A 2021 study analyzed 75 Japanese office workers for three months; one-half of the group used standing desks, while the other half didn’t. Interestingly, those who used the standing desk reported reduced neck and shoulder pain, felt healthier, and were more engaged.

Long story short, using a standing desk makes you feel more alive, and it’s definitely a more natural position for our bodies to maintain. It’s great to care for our bodies, but can our minds perform at the same level when standing?

Can You Still Be Productive While Using a Standing Desk?

When it comes to your mental performance, studies have shown that you can totally perform effectively while standing. Even though standing also can be inactive, you are more likely to move, stretch, and relax your shoulders in a standing position, enabling you to get small amounts of movement and avoid poor postures.

When your body moves, your blood flows more freely, your muscles stay active, and you get more variety in your position. How is this translated to productivity? As your mind and body are connected in so many ways, improving bodily functions improves mental ones too. Research shows that even a slight increase in physical activity improves your productivity, energy level, and focus.

Using a standing desk has also resulted in lower stress levels and less physical pain, promoting better work performance. Of course, getting used to a standing desk might take a while, so you might not be 100% as productive after introducing a new variable into your working environment. However, you will quickly get used to it and be able to perform as well as before, most likely even better!

Standing desk
Standing desk and productivity

Can a Standing Desk Be The Solution to Avoid Sedentary lifestyle?

As you’ve seen, a standing desk can be a valuable ally to be more active during the day, but remember, that can’t be the only thing you do. It’s much better to do moderate to vigorous exercise 3-4 times per week than standing the whole day but not doing any other physical activity.

Staying still for too long, even when standing, is just not good for us. So, whether you get a standing desk or not, make sure you move around, stretch your body several times during the day, and build sustainable habits that support your journey to optimal health and performance.

We hope this post helped you develop new ideas to improve your working setup. If you need help with optimizing your working setup, and you’re ready to go Beyond Sapiens, we recommend you read more about our Business & Individual Maximization Coaching programs!

Related Research

“Differences of energy expenditure while sitting versus standing: A systematic review and meta-analysis”

“Effectiveness of an intervention for reducing sitting time and improving health in office workers: three arm cluster randomised controlled trial”

  • Research Paper: https://www.bmj.com/content/378/bmj-2021-069288.full
  • Reference: Edwardson, C.L., Biddle, S.J., Clemes, S.A., Davies, M.J., Dunstan, D.W., Eborall, H., Granat, M.H., Gray, L.J., Healy, G.N., Jaicim, N.B. and Lawton, S., 2022. Effectiveness of an intervention for reducing sitting time and improving health in office workers: three arm cluster randomised controlled trial. bmj378.

“Effects of a Workplace Sit-Stand Desk Intervention on Health and Productivity”

  • Research Paper: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/21/11604
  • Reference: Ma, J., Ma, D., Li, Z. and Kim, H., 2021. Effects of a Workplace Sit–Stand Desk Intervention on Health and Productivity. International journal of environmental research and public health18(21), p.11604.

“Energy Expenditure During Acute Periods of Sitting, Standing, and Walking”

  • Research Paper: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/2108261701
  • Reference: Creasy, S.A., Rogers, R.J., Byard, T.D., Kowalsky, R.J. and Jakicic, J.M., 2016. Energy expenditure during acute periods of sitting, standing, and walking. Journal of Physical Activity and Health13(6), pp.573-578.

“Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases”

“More standing and just as productive: Effects of a sit-stand desk intervention on call center workers’ sitting, standing, and productivity at work in the Opt to Stand pilot study”

  • Research Paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335515001758
  • Reference: Chau, J.Y., Sukala, W., Fedel, K., Do, A., Engelen, L., Kingham, M., Sainsbury, A. and Bauman, A.E., 2016. More standing and just as productive: Effects of a sit-stand desk intervention on call center workers’ sitting, standing, and productivity at work in the Opt to Stand pilot study. Preventive medicine reports3, pp.68-74.

“The energy expenditure benefits of reallocating sedentary time with physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis”

  • Research Paper: https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/article/40/2/295/3862393
  • Reference: Biswas, A., Oh, P.I., Faulkner, G.E., Bonsignore, A., Pakosh, M.T. and Alter, D.A., 2018. The energy expenditure benefits of reallocating sedentary time with physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Public Health40(2), pp.295-303.

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