Whether you travel to your office or you work at home, there can be a lot of sitting involved. You may have noticed that some of your co-workers are using standing desks to try and combat the long-term effects of sitting for too long. The conversation about whether to sit or stand at the office seems to resemble so many other debates about what’s healthiest and once again, it comes down to moderation. Is coffee good for you? Are eggs good for you? We’re generally healthier when we consume things in common sense portions. Sitting and standing is no different, but you should be aware of the arguments for both.
Sit When We Need To Concentrate
We sit when we need to concentrate or focus on something specific. When your body is still, you can use more mental energy to complete important or complicated tasks. We sit when we drive, but not necessarily when we eat or socialize. Office work that can be tedious or highly detailed is probably better accomplished while sitting, but talking conversationally on a conference call can be done standing. The primary benefit to sitting is to give the body a chance to physically rest and regain the energy needed to perform other activities. When you sit for too long, however, you run the risk of slowing your metabolism and that can lead to weight gain, heart disease and other issues.
There’s a reason surgeons require their patients to get out of bed and move around quickly after their operations. The body simply heals better and faster with some movement, rather than remaining in the hospital bed and causing to muscles atrophy. Coma patients are moved regularly to keep their circulatory system working properly and ensure their organs perform the way they’re supposed to.
Standing Has Benefits
Standing has its benefits, but if it’s for too long, it can have just as many issues as sitting. The energy used to stand can lead to fatigue, and a person’s full weight in that position has more of an impact on legs and feet. Spending an entire day standing at the office can reduce concentration levels and make you much more tired. Standing does burn more calories and the activity itself keeps the muscles warm, but the body will need to rest eventually. Servers in restaurants are constantly on the move, so that activity will have a different effect than cashiers standing in the same spot for an entire shift. For both jobs, however, small breaks to sit and rest are essential.
Moderation ends up being key in any of these circumstances. Employees need to sit to complete many of their office tasks because they need to pay close attention to their work. Finance professionals, copy writers and data entry clerks all need to be very detail oriented. Small breaks are essential to productivity and getting up from the chair every half an hour or so will help energize you. Understandably, this won’t always be possible depending on your tasks, but if you make the effort to stand up and walk around at intervals during your work day, you’ll find you have more energy and a greater ability to focus on your responsibilities. If you’re on the phone for a good part of the day, you’ll find it easier to stand for your conversations and sit in between to check your email.
If your company can provide one, try using a standing desk that can be raised or lowered as needed throughout your day. If you work at home, there are smaller adjustable desks that can be placed on a table or standard desk to raise your computer monitor or laptop’s height. You may also want to invest in a cushioned mat to stand on or wear very comfortable shoes.
Some people will use the comparison between sitting for long periods and smoking a pack of cigarettes when it comes to damaging your health. A more appropriate comparison with diet and exercise could be used instead. There’s no amount of healthy moderation when it comes to cigarettes, but a balanced diet and a regular exercise routine can help you feel good and be more productive at your job. If you need to sit at a computer for most of your workday, find short periods of time to take a break and get your muscles moving. Conversely, if you choose to stand for most of your day, make sure to sit at intervals to rest your body and help your concentration. Either way, some of one along with some of the other might just be the winning combination.