How your desk chair destroys your body (and what you can do about it)
Office work can take an awful toll on your health. Between your commute and the time at your desk, you’ll spend roughly seven and a half hours sitting each day. At that rate, you might as well sit on the floor. Because the floor is lava. And lava is just as bad for your health.
Fine, lava is admittedly way worse for your health. But all that sitting isn’t doing you any favors either. It leads to lower metabolic activity and increases the risk of several diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. And many scientists agree that hitting the gym after work may not offset the harm. So instead of planning a daily triathlon, check out three ways a standing desk can keep you healthy while you work.
1. Activate more muscles
The simple act of going from a seated to standing position works out your quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, abdominals, erector spinae, obliques and glutes. Did you use your arms to push out of your chair? Thank your biceps and triceps for the assist. That’s a lot of muscle groups working to boost those lazy bones. And the small movements required to maintain a standing position keeps the good going.
It may not seem like much of a workout, but sitting for extended periods means these muscles lie dormant. Giving them regular, small tasks like standing helps keep them toned and better conditioned for more strenuous activity. And when you’re healthier, you smile more, which works out a bunch of face muscles. Bonus muscles!
2. Improve your posture
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a member of the species homo sapien (and if you’re not, let us know in the comments). That means your spine is designed to maintain an upright posture. Long periods of time in a chair can encourage slouching. This is one of the most damaging things you can do to your spine as it offsets the naturally supportive curvature and puts uneven pressure on your discs. Also, you end up looking like Scarface at the end of the movie, slumped next to that pile of white stuff on his desk. And—spoiler alert—things didn’t work out so well for him.
At the same time, too much standing can have its own negative effects. If you find yourself leaning, it’s time to sit back down. This is where an adjustable standing desk, like Readydesk, can be your best friend. Balancing your workday between both positions helps you keep a healthy posture—back straight, arms at a comfortable 90º elbow bend and computer screen slightly below eye level to keep your neck from getting stiff.
3. Burn some calories
Standing itself doesn’t burn many calories--about 50 more per hour than sitting—but it has a cumulative effect. Plus, as recent obesity research has yielded, the majority of calories are expended during resting metabolism, which is improved by regular standing.
Working at a standing desk also encourages you to move more. Combined with other healthy habits, like walking across the office to ask your colleague a question instead of sending an email, you burn more calories than you would by sitting in lava [Editor’s note: This is technically not true and a moot point, at any rate. Please don’t sit in lava.]
The quickest and simplest way to prevent “chair disease” is to find a good balance between sitting and standing. You’ll be more comfortable, have more energy and get more use out of your healthy, homo sapien body.