Reducing sedentary time can improve physical, metabolic and even mental health. Studies that found that sitting less and standing more is a very important lifestyle change.We were simply not designed to sit for long periods of time. When you stop moving for extended periods of time, it’s like telling your body it’s time to shut down and prepare for death.
Dr. James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative and author of the book Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, has dedicated a good part of his career to investigating the health effects of sitting.
His investigations show that when you’ve been sitting for a long period of time and then get up, a number of molecular cascades occur. For example, within 90 seconds of standing up, the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol—which are mediated by insulin—are activated.All of these molecular effects are activated simply by carrying your own bodyweight. These cellular mechanisms are also responsible for pushing fuel into your cells and, if done regularly, will radically decrease your risk of diabetes and obesity.
In short, at the molecular level, your body was designed to be active and on the move all day long.
If you have an office-based job, one of the most effective ways to achieve this is to use a standing desk.
Here’s why you should use a standing desk:
1) STANDING MAKES YOU SLIMMER AND HEALTHIER
Obesity occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. Humans expend energy through exercise and through changes in posture and movement associated with the routines of daily life. By standing instead of sitting, you’ll burn more calories. This might lead to weight loss and increased energy. The muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action. (Source)
2) STANDING CAN LOWER BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS WHICH LOWERS RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
Generally speaking, the more your blood sugar levels increase after meals, the worse it is for your health. In a small study of 10 office workers, standing for 180 minutes after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time. The harmful effects of sitting after meals could help explain why excessive sedentary time is linked to a whopping 112% greater risk of type 2 diabetes. (Source)
3) STANDING IMPROVES BACK PAIN
Back pain is one of the most common complaints of office workers who sit all day. To determine if standing desks could improve this, several studies have been done on employees with long-term back pain. One study published by the CDC found that use of a sit-stand desk reduced upper back and neck pain by 54% after just 4 weeks (Source)
4) STANDING IMPROVES MOOD
Standing desks appear to have a positive influence on overall well-being. In one 7-week study, participants using standing desks reported less stress and fatigue than those who remained seated the entire work day. (Source)
5) STANDING MORE MAY HELP YOU LIVE LONGER
Studies have found a strong link between increased sitting time and early death.This is not surprising given the strong association between sedentary time, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In fact, a review of 18 studies found those who sit the most are at a 49% greater risk of dying early than those who sit the least. (Source)
Now here’s what happens in various areas of your body after prolonged sitting:
•Heart: When you sit, blood flows slower and muscles burn less fat, which makes it easier for fatty acids to clog your heart. Research published in theJournal of the American College of Cardiology, for instance, showed that women who sit for 10 or more hours a day may have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less.
•Pancreas: Your body’s ability to respond to insulin is affected by just one day of excess sitting, which leads your pancreas to produce increased amounts of insulin, and this may lead to diabetes, according to research published in Diabetologia .
•Colon Cancer: Excess sitting may increase your risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The mechanism isn’t known for certain, but it could be due to excess insulin production, which encourages cell growth, or the fact that regular movement boosts antioxidants in your body that may eliminate potentially cancer-causing free radicals.
Negative Impact on Digestion: Sitting down after you’ve eaten causes your abdominal contents to compress, slowing down digestion. Sluggish digestion, in turn, can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, as well as dysbiosis in your gastrointestinal tract, a condition caused by microbial imbalances in your body. According to Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease:
“There is growing evidence that dysbiosis of the gut microbiota is associated with the pathogenesis of both intestinal and extra-intestinal disorders. Intestinal disorders include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and celiac disease, while extra-intestinal disorders include allergy, asthma, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.”
Negative Impact on Brain: Your brain function slows when your body is sedentary for too long. Your brain will get less fresh blood and oxygen, which are needed to trigger the release of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals.
•Strained Neck and Shoulders: It’s common to hold your neck and head forward while working at a computer or cradling a phone to your ear. This can lead to strains to your cervical vertebrae along with permanent imbalances, which can lead to neck strain, sore shoulders and back.
•Back Problems: Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing, and the toll on your back health is even worse if you’re sitting hunched in front of a computer. It’s estimated that 40 percent of people with back pain have spent long hours at their computer each day.
The disks in your back are meant to expand and contract as you move, which allows them to absorb blood and nutrients. When you sit, the disks are compressed and can lose flexibility over time. Sitting excessively can also increase your risk of herniated disks.
•Standing requires you to tense your abdominal muscles, which go unused when you sit, ultimately leading to weak abdominals.
•Hip Problems: Your hips also suffer from prolonged sitting, becoming tight and limited in range of motion because they are rarely extended. In the elderly, decreased hip mobility is a leading cause of falls.
•Varicose Veins: Sitting leads to poor circulation in your legs, which can cause swelling in your ankles, varicose veins, and blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
•Weak Bones: Walking, running, and engaging in other weight-bearing activities lead to stronger, denser bones. Lack of activity may cause weak bones and even osteoporosis.
When using a standing desk it’s recommended you split your time 50-50 between standing and sitting. And when you stand, make sure you don’t hunch!
Also, make sure you don’t have any subluxations in your body as extended standing or sitting could aggravate it. Check with your chiropractor for any issues with your spinal alignment.