The Truth About Standing Desks

Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular as the idea “sitting is the new smoking” gains popularity. The idea is that because you’re replacing sitting with standing, that it counteracts the risks of sedentary office work. There is some truth to this idea, but it’s important to have the whole story and info on how to safely transition to a standing desk.

Problems With Sitting

Sitting is not the problem. It’s sitting for extended periods of time (60–90+min) without a break that seem to cause problems with tight hips, poor circulation, and decreased insulin sensitivity. The decreased insulin sensitivity increases diabetes risk and causes weight gain/problems losing weight.

Remember that standing in place for hours on end is just as unnatural and potentially problematic as sitting for hours on end. Long periods of standing are can damage knee cartilage, cause varicose veins, and decrease productivity.

Proper stand up desk transition

  1. Get an adjustable desk: you want to be able to go from standing to sitting when your body needs a break, or for tasks requiring greater concentration. Without the ability to make these transitions — especially in the beginning –you put yourself at a very high risk of injury.
  2. Stand on a pad: most offices have thin flooring over concrete, so having something soft will help reduce the risk of foot, back and knee pain.

Alternatives to a stand up desk

If you decide a stand up desk isn’t for you, but still want to break up your sitting time, here are two simple suggestions:

  1. Keep and drink more water at your desk: This kills two birds with one stone — you’ll be better hydrated, and you’ll be forced to take walking breaks. Research indicates that as little as 2min of walking per hour of sitting is enough to reduce your risk of disease.
  2. Set an alarm: to alert you to get up every 50–60min. Besides reducing the risks of extended sitting, these breaks help your brain work better as mini breaks — especially with movement — help people process information and solve problems that have become frustrating.

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Josef Brandenburg is a Washington D.C.-area fitness expert with 16 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book “Results Fitness.” In 2004, he started True 180 Fitness (formerly The Body You Want) personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the time you have available. Learn more about Josef on his blog, follow him on Twitter and Facebook, or check out his fitness videos on YouTube.

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