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Are Stand-Up Desks Really Any Healthier for Office Workers?

Standing desks or stand-up desks are not a new fad. They’ve been around since at least the time of Benjamin Franklin, the founding father who used one over two hundred years ago. However, there remains a great deal of controversy regarding the benefits and drawbacks of stand-up desks.

A number of sources agree that standing up while you work gives you more energy and keeps you more alert. The University of Chester performed a study in 2013 that showed heartbeats rose by ten beats per minute because of standing. This increased the number of calories burned each day. In addition, blood glucose levels after lunch returned to normal far faster in those study subjects who stood as they worked.

Others have found that standing helps reduce lower back pain. Users of stand-up desks found that they engaged more fully with their colleagues and felt more ready for action if something called them away from their desk. They felt their minds wandered far less and they stayed more focused. Some users even found that stand-up desks lent themselves to certain “power poses” that benefited physiology, increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol, the stress hormone.

Stand-up desk users seemed to agree, though, that leg and foot soreness can be a problem. This may be a particular problem for individuals who are just starting to use a stand-up desk user and whose bodies aren’t yet accustomed to the new way of working. More comfortable shoes and an anti-fatigue mat can help reduce this problem. Gradually building up the amount of time spent at a stand-up desk can also help.

If you do opt for a stand-up desk, it’s important to get one at the right height. Because each person is different, getting a custom desk built can be prohibitively expensive. A better alternative is to get an adjustable desk. One with hydraulic power can be lowered for occasional sitting and increased to a custom height to suit your individual needs.

Sitting for long periods each day can lead to all manner of illnesses—heart disease, diabetes, vein disease and more. But standing for long periods can also create health risks, especially vein disease.

A Cornell University ergonomics team found that the real solution was simply to move around regularly. If you’re sitting at a desk, stand up every 20–30 minutes and move around for two minutes. The movement gets the blood pumping, increases calorie burn, and decreases the risks for heart disease, diabetes and other ailments. This doesn’t require vigorous exercise. Simply pacing for a couple of minutes will be enough to undo the damage of sitting for half an hour. This, of course, requires an awareness of the time and a measure of discipline to move when the appointed time arrives. Adding some moderate exercise to your daily routine can do wonders for your health, even without the use of a stand-up desk.

At SEHC, we are here to help! Call us at 910-202-4341.

Fitness Standards for Adults: Here’s What They’re Good For

 

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” Since July 16, 1955, the American government has shown at least a political interest in the health of Americans. Under President Eisenhower, the President’s Council on Youth Fitness established a beachhead against the lagging health of American youth compared with citizens of other countries. Military officers in World War 2 complained that their recruits were out of shape. Perhaps Eisenhower’s program was meant to help reverse that condition. However, it wasn’t until President Kennedy that the Commander-in-Chief took an active role in promoting standards and committing resources to them.

After nearly 60 years, the presidential council has expanded its role in a number of directions, including sports, nutrition and—most relevant to this article—adult fitness. The president’s council has had an established standard for nominal health since 2008 and benchmarks have been created for regular, moderate and vigorous activity. In addition, the council has established an online Adult Fitness Test that allows you to compare your scores with those of fellow Americans. The test can be found at http://www.adultfitnesstest.org/dataEntry.aspx.

The areas tested include the following:

  • Aerobic fitness—Preparing for the test, you should work up to moderate exercise (e.g. brisk walking) for 30 minutes, 5+ days per week; and vigorous exercise (e.g. running) for 20–30 minutes, 3–4 days per week.
  • Muscular strength and endurance—3+ days per week, work up to 3 sets each of 25 half sit-ups and 10–20 push-ups. Between each set, include a short rest.
  • Flexibility—Static stretches should be taken to the point of tension, but never to pain. Hold each for 10–30 seconds. Repeat 1–2 additional times.
  • Body composition—Your body mass index (BMI) is a measure of height related to weight, with your waist measurement as a health indicator. This should be kept between 18.5–24.9. BMI calculators can be found online.

These sorts of tests can do a lot to raise public awareness and to help focus people on activities that will make a difference. But they will only be effective is they’re used the right way. And using them the right way starts with understanding what these tests are actually measuring and what the results mean. In some ways, measuring your performance in specific exercises relative to a national average may be less helpful than measuring your improvement over time and setting new goals based on your own progress.

When taking on any exercise program or fitness testing, especially when you have not engaged in rigorous physical activity regularly for several years, you should consult with a doctor or physical trainer. Proper preparation, good technique and consistency are the keys to staying healthy and avoiding injury. Regular chiropractic care can also play an important role in helping to speed recovery, prevent future injuries and improve performance. As musculoskeletal system specialists, chiropractors have unique insight into how patients can safely increase their strength, stamina, flexibility and balance. If you want to learn more, just call or visit our office!

At SEHC, we are here to help! Call us at 910-202-4341.