Today’s health and wellness recommendations can sometimes seem like Texas weather: wait five minutes, and it’ll change.
Remember when marathoners took ibuprofen religiously before races? Studies later revealed those pre-workout NSAIDs could be dangerous. How many times has thinking flip-flopped regarding runners and stretching? Can you say with any certainty whether healthy nutrition should include dietary supplements?
That whole “eight glasses of water a day” thing–has this directive ever actually been proven?
No wonder we get confused about healthy practices.
Unhealthy Work Habits
Around 2012, health research revealed adverse affects from prolonged sitting. Getting stuck behind the office desk, we learned, was practically killing Americans.
When I’d returned to an office job in 2011, sitting all day was torturous. My body rebelled; my muscles got stiff, my mind felt sluggish.
The Mayo Clinic quotes aggregate data (that’s combined information from a cluster of related studies) showing health risks associated with an eight-hour sedentary workday are similar to obesity or smoking. Holy crap!
Between the new science and my personal experience, I jumped on the anti-sitting bandwagon. Adopting a standing position felt like an easy solution.
Standing Up for Health
Have you noticed a change at work? Really cool businesses brought in stand-up desks. My super cool ultra marathoner friends, like Joanna, combined their new stand-up desks with a treadmill. These people trained AND worked at the same time! Mind blown.
Once I’d opted out of the magazine and returned to freelancing, my work space underwent a remodel. Naturally, my new home office would include a stand-up desk. But I opted for choice; sometimes I’d want to sit and, being nothing if not practical, my inexpensive desk easily adjusts to any height (thank you, Ikea!).
Finding the Middle Ground
The New York Times just published an article, “Are You Sitting Down? Standing Desks Are Overrated.” That click bait title suggests current research disputes previously discovered health benefits associated with standing at work.
But that’s not really the case. After providing some background, author Aaron E. Carroll points to new studies showing sitting and standing are often health markers. What he actually says is context matters. Depressed people, for example, are more sedentary; those whose jobs demand time on their feet develop varicose veins. So even though plenty of large, quality studies spanning years link prolonged sitting with “increased all-cause mortality across sexes, ages, and body mass,” other research can dispute the health in standing.
And so here we are again: wait long enough, and somebody’s going to send the health study vane spinning in a different direction.
Happily, scientific research isn’t as uncontrollable as Texas weather. However you call it–common sense, moderation, failure to commit–a happy medium resolves the sitting/standing desk debate. Options matter.
Since standing on the job, my body feels better. Less slouching, stiffness, and stillness make Leah a happy worker. Sitting when I want (and need) gives my legs and feet a rest, works my arm (cranking that adjustable desk, baby!), and shifts my body.
Best of all, cutting the chair chain encourages me to go one step further: walk a bit, attempt some hula hooping, or dance at my desk.
So, back to the original question: should you sit or stand at work? Answer: Yes!
Find More Here
- “2014’s Best Fitness Lesson: Get off the Butt”
- “Ibuprofen Before Exercise?” by Berkeley Wellness (FYI: some of our Austin ultra marathoners took part in this crucial research)
- “Eight Glasses of Water Per Day?” from snopes.com
- Treadmill Workstations: The Effects of Walking while Working on Physical Activity and Work Performance
- Skavsta sit/stand desk from IKEA
- “Are You Sitting Down? Standing Desks Are Overrated” by Aaron E. Carroll