People who sit too much have a high risk of heart disease, diabetes, and early death (1, 2).
What’s more, when you sit all the time, you burn very few calories, and several studies have associated too much sitting with weight gain and obesity (3, 4).
Of course, this is a massive problem for those doing office work, because they spend most of their day at their desks. However, the good news is that standing desks are becoming more popular.
In this article, we will look at why sitting can have impressive benefits for health. It may boost productivity as well.
Weight gain is caused by taking excess calories, much more than you burn.
On the other hand, you lose weight when you burn more calories than you take in.
Although exercise is one of the best ways to burn calories fast, replacing sitting with standing can be beneficial.
Compared to sedentary work, studies have shown that spending an equal amount of time burns 170 calories (5). That’s an extra 1000 calories burned weekly from simply standing each afternoon. This caloric difference explains why prolonged sitting is strongly linked to overweight and obesity (1, 6).
Here’s the thing — high blood sugar, especially after meals, is terrible for your health. This is true especially for those with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.
In a study involving ten office workers, researchers found that standing for 180 minutes after lunch caused a 43% reduction in blood sugar spikes compared to sitting for the same duration (5).
Both groups took a similar number of steps, indicating that the smaller spike was due to standing rather than different movements around the workplace.
A second study involving 23 office workers found that alternating between sitting and standing per 30 minutes throughout working time reduced blood sugar spikes by over 11.1% on average (6).
The idea that standing benefits heart health was proposed in 1953. According to a study, bus conductors who spent more time standing than their driving colleagues had their risk of heart-related deaths reduced by 50% (7).
So since then, researchers have developed a better understanding of the benefits of sitting on heart health. Therefore, sedentary life is believed to increase the risk of heart disease by at least 147% (2, 8).
A sedentary life is so harmful that even one hour of intensive exercise may not be sufficient to compensate for the detrimental effects of an entire day of sitting (9).
Without a doubt, spending a sufficient amount of time on your feet is best for heart health.
Using standing desks at work has a positive influence on general well-being. In a 7-week study, participants who used standing desks felt less stress and fatigue than those who sat throughout their careers (10).
Also, over 87% of those who used standing desks at work felt an increased level of vigor and energy throughout the day.
The findings from these studies align with broader research on the link between sitting and mental health, which suggests a connection between sedentary living and a high risk of depression and anxiety (11, 12).
Several studies have found a strong link between long sitting time and early death. Is this surprising? I think not considering the strong association between a sedentary lifestyle, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
A review of 18 studies suggests that people who sit for a long time have a 49% higher risk of early death than those who don’t pose much (2).
Although these observational studies do not prove a cause and effect, the definitive evidence indicates that standing for a long time can increase our lifespan.
Sitting less often can improve metabolic, physical, and mental health. This explains why you should incorporate standing more into your lifestyle.
You may give this a try by checking out sit-stand desks from your office furniture merchant.
If you want to use a standing desk, I’ll recommend that you split your time 50/50 between sitting and standing.
Do you have a standing desk?
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