As I sit down to write this article, I am only 5 minutes into the research when I am pacing round my living room with my laptop in hand after being scared by a myriad of facts and figures. The truth is, we are all aware of the dangers associated with sedentary behavior. But for some reason, we push these nagging qualms to the back of our mind and go on with our working day sat at the desk in front of our computer.
So let me temporarily get you out of your seat…
“Extended sitting or lying down in daytime increases risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer – and costs NHS £700m” – says study
Why does sitting affect your metabolism?
- When you walk, you burn, on average 3 calories a minute. When you sit, this rate immediately drops to about one per minute.
- Whilst sitting, the enzymes which break down lipids and triglycerides (fat in the bloodstream), drop. Good cholesterol (HDL) also drops.
- These points increase the risk of obesity.
- When you sit, insulin levels spike. This could lead to developing problems such as Type 2 diabetes.
The stand-height desk is not the sole solution
And so, the standing desk came into play. Workplace managers read about these facts and figures and wanted to do something about it for the benefit of their employees (and ultimately, their productivity!). As the trend of the modern sit/stand desk sweeps through our offices, companies relax believing they have done their part. Whilst this is somewhat true, workplaces also need to implement a change management program to inform the employees of the benefits and help them achieve the changes they need to make. If you instead move from sitting to standing all day at your computer, you will face the same issues. This is because standing for long periods of time is also linked to many health problems.
“Until we learn more about the benefits or risks of standing, the best advice that I can give for some concerned about their sitting habits is to sit less, move more, and move often.” Dr Keith Diaz, an expert in behavioral medicine at Columbia University
Keeping fit outside of the office is not enough
But then you may think none of this applies to you as you lead an active lifestyle outside of the office, where you run or gym. So you’ll be fine, right? Hence, you move your desk height back to the seated position, or find a stool to just sit yourself at the new elevated desk height. Your companies can only provide so much. Ultimately, it is up to you, the individual, to change your habits, and hold yourself accountable for moving away from your sedentary behavior.
“Exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting,” says Marc Hamilton, an inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
So the next time you are sat at your desk, be aware. Stimulate your body and mind for your own health and benefits. For some ideas on how to keep yourself active in the office, read here