June 3, 2015
A quick internet search for "standing desk benefits" will lead you to a variety of recent articles enumerating why many office workers as of late have chosen to change the way they work, including three employees at Divine Chocolate. Pictured above are Tamsen Fricke, Operations Manager; Molly Skelly, CFO; and Liz Miller, Marketing Associate. Creating an environment in which employees can thrive is something Divine Chocolate takes to heart. And while working at a chocolate company has its obvious perks, for those of us sitting at a desk much of the day, we needed to find more ways to kick up the energy besides sampling chocolate!
You probably have already heard that sedentary behavior may lead to poor health, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. But doctors' initial understanding about why that is was based on the idea that people who sat more were probably just not working out very much. New information has shown that there should be a separate focus on the sedentary behavior itself.
As mentioned in a September 2014 TIME article, "New research shows there’s a big difference between exercising too little and sitting too much. That’s because a standing body uses energy altogether differently from a sedentary body—and also from an exercising one." As another TIME article affirms, "Even if people exercise regularly for half an hour or an hour a day, how they spend the remainder of that day is also important to their health."
A new study published online this month (June 2015) by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (commissioned by Public Health England and the Active Working Community Interest Company) further specified a pragmatic recommendation for those occupations which are predominantly desk based:
"Workers should aim to initially progress towards accumulating 2 h/day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 h/day (prorated to part-time hours). To achieve this, seated-based work should be regularly broken up with standing-based work, the use of sit–stand desks, or the taking of short active standing breaks. Along with other health promotion goals (improved nutrition, reducing alcohol, smoking and stress), companies should also promote among their staff that prolonged sitting, aggregated from work and in leisure time, may significantly and independently increase the risk of cardiometabolic diseases and premature mortality."
Divine Chocolate's Molly Skelly and Tamsen Fricke have been working at standing desks for nearly a year. As Molly explains, "I really enjoy the standing desk for the health benefits. It has improved the way I feel - sitting all day made me feel less active at work and this keeps me alert, makes me stronger physically and improves my overall health." Tamsen added that standing at her desk helps her have better posture and makes her more aware of when she needs to stretch. Liz set up her standing desk four months ago and has found that a combination of standing and sitting -- with a laptop at an adjacent desk -- has worked best for her. "Switching it up throughout the day helps me sustain my energy while not straining any one part of my body too much," she states. "If my feet start hurting, I sit down... if I notice I'm hunching over my computer, I stand up. It works, and I feel more productive."