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The Health Benefits of Standing Desks

By on March 26th, 2013
Filed: Advice

Trevor's Standing Desk at eHealthWhen I first read about the about the health effects of sitting I was shocked. Sitting for multiple hours a day raises your risk of mortality regardless of whether or not you exercise.

As a health conscious person with an interest in science and medicine, I already exercise a couple of times a week, eat healthy, natural foods, and limit my alcohol consumption. But I was beginning to see that my 8 hours a day spent sitting in a chair was not doing me any good.

According to a study by the American Cancer Society, women who claimed to sit more than 6 hours per day had a chance of dying 37% higher than those who sat less than 3 hours a day. Men who reported sitting more than 6 hours per day were 18% more likely to die than their counterparts who spent less than 3 hours a day sitting.

This study and studies like it are very relevant as the average American spends about 8 hours a day sitting.

I put it on my checklist to convert my home desk to a standing desk while I worried, will I even like it? What if I can’t stand it and then I have to spend precious time converting it back?

Well, not only did I like it, I eventually got a standing desk at work too. My desk at work can go up and down at the push of a button, but I always keep it up. I feel a lot more energized and rarely become tired at work anymore.

Is a Standing Desk Right for You?

I may have made the switch cold turkey, but there is no reason why you can’t just gradually stand more during your workday. If your lower back gets sore, for example, you can just sit back down. But remember, just like during a workout, standing for longer periods of time will strengthen your muscles and make it easier to stand in the future. Try it out; at the very least you will have a way to take standing breaks while checking your Facebook.

Are Standing Desks Affordable?

Though standing desks vary in price, there are absolutely options for every price range. Your desk could be a futuristic workstation with hydraulics and a treadmill, or just your regular desk stacked up on reams of paper. Many desks can be adapted with just a little time and creativity.

What if You Can’t Get a Standing Desk?

If you have no way of standing at work, another option is to use a “stability ball.” By sitting on the stability ball instead of a chair, you are continuing to activate the muscle fibers in your legs and they do not lie dormant as with sitting in a chair.

Whether you choose to get a standing desk or not, remember that your health is essentially the addition of countless factors, both controllable and uncontrollable. It helps to focus on the ones you can control: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, unwinding at the gym instead of in front of the TV, and cooking a healthy meal at home instead of eating fast food.

Don’t sit back and let your work hours drain your health; choose the factors that you can control, and take a stand.

Patel, Alpa V., et al. “Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults.” American Journal of Epidemiology 172.4 (2010): 419-429.

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About Trevor Hudson


Trevor’s interest in the intersection of health and technology has brought him to eHealth, where he works on projects to help visitors of eHealth websites understand their health insurance options in the wake of health reform. An advocate of healthy living himself, he enjoys sharing information about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and is known for keeping a grill in the office.

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