We all know that being sedentary isn’t good for our health. Sitting anywhere for an extended period of time–in the office, at home, or elsewhere–is tied to a slew of health risks, including early death. For those of us working a 9-5 desk job, this conclusion isn’t necessarily surprising. Back, neck, and shoulder pain are commonly cited among office employees as just a few of the hazards involved when typing at a computer during the workday.
One solution that has gained considerable popularity in recent years is the standing desk. Most of these desks are adjustable, so the employee can alternate between sitting and standing during the day. With the goal to encourage mobility and discourage long periods of sitting, standing desks would appear like a worthwhile investment.
But experts say that there’s not enough conclusive evidence to definitively state that adjustable desks are effective; and if you’re looking to lose weight, there’s even less consensus. Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, says that the extra calories burned when standing are negligible. Furthermore, Verbeek asserts that standing may have negative health consequences, citing one 2005 study where prolonged standing was linked to enlarged varicose veins.
Still, it might not be all bad. Lucas Carr, a behavioral medicine professor at the University of Iowa, says that the presence of standing desks can send a preventative message to office workers so that they don’t adopt unhealthy behaviors.
Instead of relying on a desk to stay healthy, here are some other ways to add some variety to the workday.
- Walk to the farthest kitchen for water (or coffee or tea!). If your office is multiple floors, walk to the kitchen upstairs to fill your glass. Follow this same strategy when using the restroom.
- Take a walk at lunch. Whether you need to run an errand or simply need a breath of fresh air, this is an easy way to break up your day and return to your desk feeling refreshed.
- Take your meetings outside. If possible, try to arrange a “walking meeting” with your co-workers. You’ll get in some exercise while also attending to your to-do list.
- Stretch at your desk. Take a break from typing to do these effective moves. Neck pain? Try these chiropractor-approved stretches.
Do you use a standing desk? What’s your favorite way to stay moving at work?
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