Many of us fall victim to having a job that requires us to sit a good 6 – 10+ hours a day. The human body has evolved over centuries to allow us to be upright and mobile, yet we have found a way to defy our own evolution by creating desk jobs and cubicles. I am not stating we should be standing on our feet every waking moment, but mixing it up to get the body moving is much better than being stagnant. To paraphrase one of Newton’s laws (even though I don’t think Newton was thinking of this when he created them) an object will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force.
Welcome 2016! Companies are finally waking up and noticing their employees are getting lazy and sick. I am not saying that sitting all day is the only thing making us sick and lazy, but it’s not helping the equation much either. I am excited to see companies are now implementing sit-to-stand desks and giving people the option to periodically stand while working. I am a huge fan of this model and personally take advantage of it all the time. I even make a competition out of it with my coworkers to see who can stand longer.
If you are lucky enough to have a job where this is an option, I highly recommend utilizing the opportunity to stand periodically while you work. There are many reasons, but I will focus on four real health benefits you will gain by standing periodically while working throughout your workday:
1. Your body’s circulation will improve. Get that warm and fuzzy feeling.
2. You will be strengthening your stabilizer muscles and joints. I choose this over the alternative of letting them weaken and deteriorate over time.
3. Improves your posture. No more slouching!
4. Your workflow and energy will increase which usually equates to promotions and more $$$$!
I swear I am not just making up benefits to endorse a fad. The benefits are real and I will get into them, but before I do, I want to address the people that don’t have the luxury of sit-to-stand desks.
If your company is not forward thinking enough for stand up optional workstations, you can still do other things that will help improve your health at work. Here are three things I would recommend doing to help increase your movement:
1. Take the stairs if you have them. One step at a time.
2. Stand up while you’re on the phone. It may feel weird at first, but you get use to it.
3. Walk over to coworkers desks rather then call them. You may make a new friend!
Now about those benefits I mentioned earlier. Let’s start with circulation. Standing rather than sitting for long periods of time has been proven to increase your body circulation. The reason being is the muscles in your body require oxygen and blood flow. The more you use those muscles, the more blood flow your body needs. Simple as that. It may not seem like much, but after all, you are performing an activity. By just standing, you are utilizing twice as many stabilizer muscles than you would be sitting. Which brings me to my next point.
Have you ever had a backache, knee pain, neck twinge, or foot soreness? You’re not alone! These are very common afflictions among many people. A big reason (even though this isn’t always the case) for aches and pains is heavily due to weakness of stabilizer muscles. I know, crazy right!? Weakness in stabilizer muscles makes it hard for your body to support movement and can lead to injury. In other cases, injuries can be caused because muscles begin to over compensate when stabilizer muscles are not strong enough. Seems hard to believe that something as simple as stabilizer muscle plays that big of a role, huh?
Let’s take a look at this from another perspective. Have you ever seen those big body builder competitions on TV? What do you think would happen if one day they stopped lifting weights all together? Yes they would lose those fake orange tans, but besides that, yes, you guess it, their muscles will decrease in size and strength. The same goes for stabilizers muscles and joints. The ones that can’t win you hot body contests, don’t get all the attention and won’t turn any heads. However, stabilizer muscles are the real unsung heroes of the body. Keep in mind you have three things constantly working against your stabilizer muscles every day in an unfavorable combination; your body weight, gravity and time.
Now to my last point, increasing your work flow and energy.This is just simple math. A real 1+2=3. Have you ever noticed that when you sit or lay down, you begin to feel tired and get sleepy? This is because you’re telling your mind and body you are relaxing. It is comfortable. Not exactly the mindset and mental edge to get you that promotion over Janette and Bob, now is it? Your mind and body are at their peak functionality when you are alert and standing. Your body begins to rest when it is sitting or laying down. Think of it that way.
Standing while working really has a pivotal impact on your health and body. If you have a stand up desk at work, go ahead and take advantage of it! You might just thank me later when you no longer have back pain and don’t feel too tired to focus at work.