The sitting vs standing debate is one of the debates floating around today, and the world is split on this. The one thing that most people agree with is the fact that sitting is not exactly ideal, especially if you’re sitting for extended periods. The suggested alternative to sitting has been standing, and this is where the path splits as people can’t seem to agree on whether standing is the solution.
Like anything in life, everything has benefits and shortcomings, and before I lay my claim on either one, I decided to do some research into this as well as test it out myself. This was in a bid to settle the sitting vs standing debate. However, from my personal experience, I’ve found that there’s a lot of benefits to standing, and there are benefits to sitting as well. Let me explain!
Since standing desks became a popular item in the market, most people have adopted the standing lifestyle. Regrettably, there is a lot of false information in this debate, fueled mainly by critics who are not sold on standing desks. Therefore, I would urge that everyone gets to do their own research into this debate. It is always good to make your conclusions based on the information you’ve gathered and no on someone else’s opinion.
We have to remember that standing is part of some people’s jobs. They get to stand for extended periods without the chance to sit. In their case, does that make them healthier than the rest of us?
Getting into standing desks, are they really worth all the buzz they’ve been getting? The simple answer is YES! Standing desks are an incredible addition to the modern work setting. According to research, sitting for long periods of times is detrimental to your health. It also hinders your metabolism, where standing helps you burn calories.
Before we get caught up on the fitness benefits of standing over sitting, let’s take in-depth scrutiny of the pros and cons of each of these sides.
Where the debate began
According to a report by WHO back in 2013, physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor of death in the world. This means that over three million deaths are preventable and that physical inactivity is more dangerous than HIV and lung cancer combined.
Knowing this, reality hits hard when you realize that you spend most of your time sitting at your work desk. These statistics and the increase in the number of people with back, neck and muscle problems prompted the start of this debate. It was then fueled by data from medical specialists and the introduction of standing desks.
I’m glad we’re having this conversation now. We have the potential to rescue millions of people by helping them understand the benefits of physical activity. The reality that we all should accept is, our bodies are built to move. Prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to many lifestyle diseases as well.
To sit or to stand?
The clear answer to this is sitting and standing in moderation. Just because there are benefits of standing doesn’t mean that you should do away with sitting altogether. The killer word in this is ‘prolonged.’ You should not do anything in excess; finding that sweet middle ground is the best way to prevent health issues and transform yourself.
There is nothing wrong with sitting; the problem comes in when you sit for long periods without taking breaks. There is also nothing wrong with standing; however, you will find that after some time, you grow tired, and your body becomes achy. The answer to this debate is activity; whether you choose to stand or sit, you need to be active, move around, switch positions and allow your muscles to relax and move around.
Standing desks have come at an opportune time, and the sit-to-stand function is especially useful. Having the capability to transition from sitting to standing during your workday ensures that your body is not stuck in one position long enough for your muscles to complain.
The issue that most medical experts find with sitting is our posture. We are prone to slumping and adopting postures that are bad for our backs, necks and spine in general. Incidents of back pains have been on the rise, especially worrying as many young people are suffering the same.
Don’t forget that there are good and bad postures while standing. There’s method to standing, and when done wrong, it could cause you health issues as well.
The benefits of standing
- Improved circulation – The correct standing posture can do wonders for your health. Your chest is open, and you get better lung capacity, which means that you get better oxygen circulation in your blood.
- You have boosted metabolism – Intervals of movement as you fidget while standing help burn calories and improve your metabolism. This leaves you energized and overall healthier.
- You’re more productive while standing – This true because standing makes you alert to the things happening around you. You have better focus, and blood flow to your brain is increased. You can still be productive while seated, but it’s hard to hold your concentration as long as you will while standing.
- Prevents lifestyle diseases – Your body naturally regulates your blood sugar levels, and this is very difficult when you remain in the same position all day. Switching between sitting and standing, moving around reduces your risk of chronic diseases.
The problems of sitting for too long
Let’s circle back to sitting and the postural problems that come with it. Health practitioners have been very vocal about the issues that accompany sitting for prolonged periods. One of the most noticeable results is back pain. I can almost wager that more than half of the people reading this have either experienced back pain or know someone who has.
The modern world is faced with a severe back pain problem. So many people are grappling with lower back pain, and medical explain it’s a result of applying too much pressure on our lower lumbar spine by sitting too long. The amount of force exerted on our muscles, joints and nerves when we sit and slouch is 90% more than when we’re standing. Your overall body strength deteriorates the longer you adopt poor postural habits.
My experience with sitting and standing
I have been on the back pain trope, and it’s no walk in the park. I was a couch potato, and my movements mostly entailed shifting from sitting to lying down. It wasn’t until it got so bad that I could barely function. When I started sitting and standing during work, I began to see improvements to my overall health, especially my back. It has also had some good effects on my mood and productivity.
I made the mistake of switching from my slouching and poor posture to standing for long hours, and my body protested so painfully. It wasn’t until I found the balance. You can’t trade one for the other; you need to work with both for optimal results.
To aid this transition, I got myself the Flexispot Comhar standing desk, and the transitions from sitting to standing have helped me sustain my energy levels throughout the day. I’ve got to say; this desk has been a lifesaver. It is easy to install, great height adjustments, ample space for my work stuff, and not to mention the incredible surface. Even as I try to train myself to lead a healthier lifestyle without compromising my work, I consider elegance when looking for a standing desk for my space.
I think investing in a standing desk is the best form of motivation to get you off that seat. With my standing desk, I’ve found myself moving around quite a bit, and my eye is now on possible accessories to help improve my sit-stand experience.
As you get into the sit-stand switch during your workday, remember to look up the correct use of a standing desk; used incorrectly, it could cause you more harm than good. The goal is to have everyone having a healthier workday and minimizing the millions of lives lost to physical inactivity.
Getting a suitable standing desk for you is essential. Do your research into available standing desks and choose the best-suited one, just like I did with my Flexispot Comhar standing desk. Once you’ve found your fit, start slowly and build up to an everyday balance of sitting and standing.
To sum up, standing is not the solution in this debate; neither is sitting. A balance of both functions is the combination that the human body needs to thrive. Your body is built for movement so move it every now and then. A perfect balance will improve your quality of life. As far as science is concerned, researchers have maintained that further research is needed to find the best solution. But as the scientists do their thing, you can invest in the available solution of balancing your workday. I have learnt through my mistakes, misinformation and incredulous back pain, but I can attest to the working benefits of striking a balance.
This article was written by Teddy Muyeka.