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Office rivalry: Standing desk vs sitting desk
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Office rivalry: Standing desk vs sitting desk

Using a standing desk improves posture, blood circulation and blood sugar levels. But remember: standing or sitting, staying in one position at a stretch will lead to pain and discomfort
The standing desk keeps you in an upright position, and the core engages to keep your posture erect.
The standing desk has risen in popularity. Offices have begun incorporating them as part of ergonomic management.

Sitting is the new smoking but does a standing desk help? Standing desks have many takers but is it a good move to shift from sitting long hours to prolonged standing?

Although the rise in popularity of standing desks is a recent phenomenon, their history dates to the 1400s. The use of standing desks by prominent figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Hemingway over the centuries has been documented.

The standing desk puts you in an upright position, keeping your posture erect. “Standing desk can help you to reduce your blood sugar level as well,” says Biswaranjan Das, a physiotherapist, musculoskeletal and sports-injury specialist at Manipal Health Enterprises, Mangaluru, Karnataka.

Is sitting really that bad?

Most workspaces have regular desks at which people spend up to eight hours sitting.

The relaxed nature of sitting comes with various health red flags — including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Too much sitting increases the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Regular breaks from sitting help avoid or manage the ill effects.

Standing desk or sitting desk?

A standing desk or sitting desk is part of ergonomic management at offices. However, the choice squarely falls on the user.

Sitting throughout the day burns 80 to 100 calories per hour, while standing burns 150 to 180 calories per hour on average. “Continuously working in a standing position for a week, you spend at least 2,000 calories extra. Weight loss can be significant,” says Das.

Standing also improves blood circulation, leading to better cardiovascular and joint health. Sitting too long can hinder the blood flow to the glutes and hamstrings. However, prolonged standing can lead to back pain, knee pain and plantar fasciitis (pain in the heel and at the base of the foot).

One would imagine that the above-mentioned benefits tilt things toward standing. But no: standing long hours comes with its own set of issues.

Movement is key

Das recommends using a combination of standing and regular desks. “If you are continuously working for six to eight hours, it is always advisable to use combinations of standing and sitting,” he says. “For every couple of hours, you sit, you can stand for 30 to 40 minutes to start with. As you improve, you could make it 50-50.”

Standing or sitting, staying in one position for an hour together will lead to pain and discomfort. The human body is designed to be mobile.

“If you’re a beginner and are not used to this kind of thing, the idea is that you need to start with 30 to 60 minutes standing,” says Das. “Once you feel better, confident and your body feels healthy, you can gradually increase the time.”

Takeaways

  • Sitting for too long has side-effects, such as lower back pain, knee pain and reduced blood circulation.
  • A standing or sitting desk is a part of ergonomic management.
  • A standing desk improves your posture, blood circulation and blood sugar levels.
  • A combination of standing and sitting along with regular breaks is advisable.

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