We may have learned the proper way to sit when we were young – “sit up straight, posture is important” – but by the time we’ve logged thousands of hours of school work, homework, and office work, we’ve likely forgotten.
They’re more than what we think of initially – the usual red flags concerning exercise, heart health, and factors to do with illness. The Washington Post reminds us that we’re ignoring the health of the spine – and more – as it reports on “Standing Desks Sit Well With Employees.”
What’s that, you say? On your feet if you’re waiting tables is one thing, but plunking away on a laptop without being comfy in your chair?
The Health Hazards of Sitting
Apparently we should forget “whistle while you work” and opt for standing instead. The Post has previously presented illustrations of the health hazards of sitting, which potentially include organ damage, muscle degeneration, circulatory problems, bad back, and foggy brain to name a few.
Even if you don’t read the entire article, one picture truly is worth a thousand words in this case. So pop over and peek before you dismiss the health hazards of hunching, slumping and slouching!
As I tally the hours that I spend on my laptop, sitting of course, I console myself with the fact that I get up and move around at various points in time. I also take a brisk walk daily, weather permitting. Strangely (or not?), I find myself standing at the kitchen counter when I eat my lunch – a habit I picked up in the past few years, though I was never certain why.
Unfortunately (for me), none of this is sufficient to offset the dire damage from derrière domination over my working days and nights.
Pushing Back Against the Sedentary Lifestyle
In 2012, Women’s Health was already all over this issue, informing us that a sedentary lifestyle is more dangerous than we realize, and that exercise isn’t an automatic antidote.
In “The Risks of the Sedentary Lifestyle” they refer to their previous elaboration on the subject of sitting, which dates to 2009. They remind us that the downside is more than a problem of weight gain, and:
… research has found that inactivity can also damage your mind, sleep cycle, and organs. It could even shorten your life: Women who sit for more than six hours a day have a roughly 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, regardless of their fitness level, versus those who sit for fewer than three hours.
All those who are alarmed by that… please stand up!
Standing Up for Ourselves
When I consider the importance of individuals standing up for themselves, I don’t generally picture the physical act of standing up. Yet these articles highlight the advantages to taking a stand – literally. We take deeper breaths, we center ourselves, and of course when we actually exercise, mood is enhanced.
Even common sense tells us that’s an unhealthy posture. So why not take a stance for standing up?
In fact, while writing this, I have repositioned myself as follows: standing squarely on both feet, shoulders back, chin up, laptop set at a perfect height on the back of a large chair. I used this resource from Wired.com on the standing desk to set the appropriate laptop height.
I must say, this feels wonderful.
Skeletal Sympathy for Office Workers?
I’m remembering a client I worked with awhile back. Theirs was the ever popular cubicle environment and the still too prevalent culture of monitoring “time in chair.” Despite a theoretically ergonomic environment, as I am of diminutive stature neither desk nor chair was ever a proper fit to sit.
I routinely returned home with every muscle aching, despite using my lunch break to take a walk. At the time, I considered my need for vigorous movement a sanity break. I realize now that it was also a sort of instinct to redress the grievances of the sedentary day.
Since that time, however, some attention is beginning to be paid to the benefits of standing as described in this Wall Street Journal article from nearly three years ago. Incidentally, an article in French newspaper, Le Monde, points out that these types of desks have been known in Europe for 20 years. The individual they cite?
He is the CEO of a US office furniture manufacturer, sitting pretty as sales of his elevated desks experience significant growth.
Do you know how many hours you spend sitting during the day? Does your employer measure productivity by “time in chair?” Can you take periodic breaks to work standing up? Have you ever used a standing desk?
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