“Sitting is the new smoking” has been a popular phrase over the past decade. We’re learning more and more that sitting is very bad for our health. Many studies show that sitting too much decreases your life expectancy.
In response to these studies, a lot of people have caught on to the standing desk movement. Standing desks might help a little, but I won't necessarily get to the root of the problem.
Here’s how I look at it… The two ways that sitting negatively impacts our health are poor cardiovascular system stimulation and bad posture.
Does standing help stimulate your cardiovascular system more than sitting? Maybe slightly… but it’s negligible. Standing in one place instead of sitting in one place isn’t going to make any significant impact on our cardiovascular health.
Does standing help improve our posture? Not necessarily. Think about the times you’ve had to stand in one place for a long time. You probably shifted your weight to one leg, leaned against a wall, or put your hands on something (like a desk) to support yourself. I don’t blame you! It’s really difficult to hold good posture while staying in the same spot for hours at a time. But all of these habits can contribute to joint pain or muscle imbalances that lead to future injuries.
The problem isn’t just sitting… it’s inactivity!
Activity solves both problems… it improves our cardiovascular health AND gives us breaks from static positions to allow us to maintain better posture throughout the day.
The article I linked to above recommends movement every 30 minutes, which I think is great. That might sound impossible to a lot of people. Start with 2 hours if you’re used to sitting for 4 hours straight. Any improvement is worth it!
Before I close this out, I do want to give a supporting argument to standing desks. Standing desks make it easier to move while you work. It doesn’t take much to bust out some squats, step side to side, or even jog in place for a moment when you are standing. These things become much more of a task if you are sitting.
So despite my arguments that standing isn’t much better than sitting, I do actually believe standing desks are better than sitting desks… but only if they are used as a way to more easily include movement throughout the day!