Standing Up on the Job, Part 2

Standing desk 1New research on the dangers of sitting

We sit too much. Common sense tells us this and now research confirms it.

If you think you can make up for all the sitting you do with regular exercise, think again. Even if you’re getting the recommended 30 or 40 minutes of exercise each day, a recent small study shows that it’s negated by hours spent parked on your keister.

And this study found that sitting causes us to put on a specific kind of fat around our hearts that’s dangerous because it’s strongly related to heart disease.

Glycemic response in overweight people was measured in this new study, which showed that glucose and insulin levels increased by 20 percent in those subjects who sat for two hours after the test meal instead of engaging in moderate activity.

A recent Australian study of over 63,000 men examined links between sitting and chronic disease, comparing men who sat less than four hours a day with those who sat from four to six hours, six to eight, and more than eight hours. Significantly more men over the four-hour mark reported having not only diabetes, but also cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure, and the risk increased as the hours of sitting increased.

Idle muscle has negative effects on fat and cholesterol metabolism. But here’s the good news: standing can double your metabolic rate, with no additional exercise.

What about treadmill desks?

Some people turbocharge their standing desk by adding a treadmill. Great idea, right?

Well, maybe not. My go-to movement expert, Katy Bowman, warns in this post that the mechanics of movement on a treadmill are more like falling than walking:

[Treadmills] often contribute to spine, hip, and knee problems. Because the belt moves backward, our feet meet little or no resistance when they push off. This requires us to lift our legs out in front of us (holy psoas, Batman!) and then fall forward. The hips, knees, and feet, unfortunately, then have to provide the cushioning for the crash landing.

Build your own standing desk

You can purchase a purpose-built standing desk, but why not jerry-rig a temporary setup first to see if you like it? I reconfigured the desk I had by fully extending the legs and piling my keyboard and monitor up on piles of books (see the photo in Part 1).

Here are some other ideas you can cobble together on the cheap:

Treadmill Desk Diary — I know, I advise against treadmills, but this delightfully geeky site has tons of useful info.

“Hack a Standing Desk from IKEA”

“A standing desk for $22” 

More inspiration to get you standing

“Office Workers Beware: Sitting Time Associated With Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases” 

“Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics”

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