The Mayo Clinic’s James Levine, widely regarded as the pioneer of standing desks, discovered that people who sit in a sedentary manner at work are more likely to gain weight than others who introduce some movement into their day.
Standing burns around 50 more calories per hour than sitting. This may not seem like a lot, but if you stand for 3 hours a day, 5 days per week, that equates to 750 calories a week, or 3.6 kg of weight gain over a year. This certainly puts some ‘weight’ behind the argument for stand-up desks!
But it’s worth noting, as Mr Levine found, standing is only the start to improving your health at work. The key is to move more during the day – walking around, flexing your legs, and shifting from sitting and standing positions – and standing provides the perfect opportunity to achieve that.
A University of Leicester study that monitored a group of overweight women, found that standing for 5 minutes out of every 30 minutes decreased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study reported that standing led to a 34 per cent reduction in blood sugar levels and a 20 per cent decrease in insulin levels.
Standing for part of the day can improve the way the body takes up glucose. When the body is in movement it is letting muscles and cells know it needs food and they begin to absorb sugar from the blood. Increased exposure to high blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of men and women in New Zealand. Smoking cessation, lowering of cholesterol, weight loss and regular exercise have long been factors known to decrease the risk of heart disease. Less time sitting during the day has now joined that list of factors to avoid cardiovascular problems.
A US study discovered that men who sit for five or more hours per day are 34 per cent more likely to develop heart failure than men who sit less than 2 hours a day. An Australian study also found that extended periods of sitting raised the incidence of heart disease by 14 per cent.
More alarming is that regular exercise doesn’t necessarily negate the risk of sitting for prolonged periods of time. Even if you exercise for half an hour or more each day, you still have a 10 per cent greater chance of early death from heart disease.
Studies have found a link between sedentary behaviour (excessive sitting rather than not enough exercise) and the incidence of ovarian, endometrial and colorectal cancers.
The risk increases along with the length of time sitting, and similar to heart disease, this is not mitigated through regular exercise. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends that people interrupt their sitting every hour with some movement. So now that you’ve sat around long enough to read this post, it’s probably time to get up and stretch those legs!
If you want to improve the health of your employees, and make a change for the better, view our range of standing desks today!