More than 80 percent of Americans sit all day for their jobs. Many of those people go home after work and sit some more, whether they’re reading, watching television, playing games or surfing the internet. According to a survey by Ergotron and JustStand.org, most Americans spend approximately 13 hours a day sitting.
As you might guess, all that sitting isn’t good for you. Research indicates that prolonged sitting increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and even death. And regardless of how much you exercise, the longer you sit, the shorter your lifespan will be.
So how can you combat the potential consequences of prolonged sitting? Stand more.
Standing up to work can have a big impact on your health. A team of researchers from the University of Chester found that standing three or four hours a day, five days a week over the course of a year is the equivalent of running 10 marathons a year.
If you have a desk job, it’s time to consider upgrading to a sit-to-stand workstation. The benefits of standing while working go beyond promoting a neutral body posture and lowering your risk of life-threatening health complications. A standing workstation can also boost brain activity and increase collaboration.
“We found that standing led to up to 10 percent more productivity,” noted a study covered by Business Insider. The same study also found that standing to work might lead to higher energy levels, improved concentration and fewer headaches.
Ready to make the change? Here are five tips to help you adjust to a standing desk:
1. Do your research and find the right desk. Spend some time looking into your options and choose the standing desk that is right for you and your work style. Consider the overall quality of the product and how easy it will be for you to use it on a daily basis. Look for a desk that easily adjusts between sitting and standing heights. Here’s one option you might consider.
2. Ease into it. It may take you a little time to adjust to using a standing desk. Ease yourself into it over time. Begin by standing for short, 20-minute bursts throughout the day. For example, stand while you make phone calls and during breaks and meetings. Create a DIY standing workstation and commit to standing to work for one hour a day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend standing, but know it’s OK to sit, too. Even people who stand a majority of time at work still sit for at least 20 percent of their workday.
3. Think about ergonomics. It’s important that your keyboard and monitor are at the appropriate heights to avoid cramping or pain in your shoulders, back and neck. Stand straight up and bend your elbows so that your forearms are parallel to the ground. This is the ideal height for your keyboard. Your monitor should be at eye level and at least an arm’s length away when you are standing.
4. Get comfortable. Keep a comfortable pair of shoes (flats, not heels) at the office so you can slip into them while standing. Invest in an anti-fatigue standing mat (like this one) to cushion your feet. Anti-fatigue mats are designed to reduce fatigue caused by standing on a hard surface and can ease stress and discomfort in the feet and legs from standing for prolonged periods.
5. Focus on posture. When you’re standing, don’t forget to focus on your posture. Poor posture will only lead to more back, neck and shoulder discomfort and pain. Imagine there is a string pulling your head straight up toward the ceiling and keep your head balanced evenly on your shoulders without allowing your head to jut forward or tilt to one side.