How much time do you spend sitting?
Recently I have been aware of how much time I spent sitting down. On the train/bus, in the car, at my desk, when having lunch, at home in the evening watching TV.... the hours mount up to a scary total!
At my old job, I spent quite a lot of time sitting down, although I was lucky enough to not be at my desk all day. Now that I have moved on and am working/studying from home at least part time I wanted to take the opportunity to design my workspace.
Where I studied for my degree at Loughborough University I would often walk past a few offices with standing desks. I had heard that they were beneficial to your health but always wondered how much more tired they would make you. I always wondered "how long do they stand for?" "don't your feet hurt?" I learnt that after a trial these proved to be a popular addition.
The benefits of standing desks have recently been shown on TV programs such as ‘How to Stay Young’ and ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ (BBC) - worth checking out!
Sitting and being sedentary for too long has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and premature death. Standing up engages your muscles in your legs and feet, and raises your heart rate slightly. While only being a gentle exercise it changes how you body deals with blood sugar, and takes us out of energy storage mode.
On average you burn approx 50 extra calories every hour by standing rather than sitting. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add up standing for a few hours a day, 5 days a week, that is an extra 30,000 kcals burned just by standing! That's the equivalent of running 10 marathons!!
Dr Gregor from nutritionfacts.org goes a step further than a standing desk and works at a treadmill desk! (Link to his video on standing desks at the end of this post)
Fortunately the desk that I already had at home has extendable legs (thank you Ikea!) so I cranked them right up. This makes it just the right height for me, although when using my laptop I add a handy box (which is just a box of memories and photographs) to make the screen at the correct eye level.
I have been surprised with how good it feels to stay standing up all day. I started with the approach that I’d stand up for a while, and sit down for little breaks, then stand up again, and gradually increase my standing time... however I found that I didn’t need to do this. On my first day I didn’t get tired and stayed standing all day (except for lunch).
It feels so good to be standing up (plus when a great tune comes on the radio you are already on your dance floor 💃🏼 ...okay maybe that’s just me?!)
In just a few weeks I can’t believe how quickly I have seen a change in my body. I have lots more energy and feel as if I am raring to go! I am definately more alert. Also it is more rewarding when you sit down at the end of the day 😌
How long do you think you sit for everyday? Run through a typical day in your head and note how much time you spend sitting.
Could you make changes to get you standing for a bit longer? Stand up on your commute? Stand up whilst making phone calls? Could you build yourself a standing desk at home with the help of a few boxes or books? You can even buy adjustable workstations to add to your existing desk.
Even if nothing else, be aware of how long you spend standing/sitting.
I understand that making changes to your desk at work might not be possible for everyone. For those who can change their environment a little - test it and see how you feel.
For those who can't, try being more active, walk over and talk to someone rather than email. Next time you get the bus, think if you really need to sit down, or if you could stand for this journey?
Start with considering how you could add more standing time to your day, and make little changes.
Below is some further reading on sitting and standing for your health.