Most Americans spend most of the day sitting at a desk working. The pandemic did provide a reprieve and many people found themselves incorporating a new fitness routine. However, regular exercise is not enough to negate the hours of sitting that can cause a host of health problems including back pain, hip tension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia.
In 2018, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study of 8,000 people that showed a link between prolonged sitting and a risk of early death from any cause. With the second industrial revolution, the work place changed and people moved less than their ancestors. However, a sedentary lifestyle has become a habit forming even before adolescence with increased use of egames, computers, cell phones, and streaming services as well as traveling by car, bus, or train. Overall, people of all ages move less frequently than people did just 20 years ago.
If you are considering a standing desk to expand the benefits of your daily exercise regime, there are several options. From fixed height desks that stay at your standing height to sit-stand desks that go up and down. The latter can be manual or power operated so they adjust at the press of a button and can travel with you between the office and your home. These desks can be purchased online or at any office supply, electronics or big box store. They can range in prince from $100 to $1,000. Treadmill desks take the idea a step further but the cost is more exorbitant.
Ideally, you will want to wear comfortable shoes with no heel or a low one and stand on a cushioned mat that offers more support. The standing desk should be at a height where your head, neck and spine are in a straight line when you stand and your elbows are at a 90-degree angle when your wrists are flat on the desk. The monitor should be at eye level to prevent neck strain.
Experts suggest using your standing desk throughout the day with sit and walk breaks peppered in. It is best to start slowly with just 30 minutes of standing at a time and gradually increase to standing an hour or two depending on how your body feels.
Aside from burning more calories (standing sheds about 88 calories an hour), those who use a standing desk report less back pain and are less likely to be obese. Standing can also help maintain muscle tone as you age and improve mood as well as energy levels. Some studies have even shown that those who use a standing desk are more productive. Bottom line is that leading a less sedentary life has a multitude of benefits that contribute to a longer life.
Written by Kelly Reising who is passionate about nutrition, fitness and health.
Dr. Mc Millan is a Board-Certified orthopedic sports medicine surgeon practicing in the Virtua Health System of south Jersey. For more information please visit www.drseanmcmillan.com or follow us on twitter @sportsdrsean.