According to a research conducted by the Texas AM Health Science Centre, standing could increase your levels of productivity by up to a whopping 46%.
There is also a project, titled ‘Take A Stand’ which has been initiated by Ergatron—a company that manufactures standing desks (we’ll get to that later)—that has observed that use of elevated workspaces see soaring output levels and tend to work better, with a fresher mindset; courtesy: higher energy levels, increased focus and reduced chances of depression over a span of seven weeks. The company is also of the belief that if you have higher stress levels than usual, it’s time to stand up, in the literal sense—an action which has interestingly reduced levels of anxiety in employees by approximately 33%!
The point of putting across these studies and statistics is one—it’s time to stand up. I mean literally. Get up from that chair that you seem to have glued your bottom to and proceed with work. You think I sound ridiculous, don’t you? Who does that, right—standing at your workstation, instead of sitting? To answer your questions, firstly, no, I’m not being ridiculous. Secondly, the people in the UK are doing it (no, don’t crack a Brexit joke; it’s really old and unwanted at this point). And they’re doing it for the same reasons that have been quantifiably proven by the above mentioned statistics. Sitting is killing you—slowly and softly—just like that cigarette you’ve been smoking and you’d be surprised to know that about 75% of us are continuously sitting for more than 6 hours, straight.
In fact, in an article published on Stylist UK’s website, Dr James Levine, author of ‘Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You And What You Can Do About It’, even claims that sitting is indeed the new smoking! He goes on to cite a paper published by Harvard University that states how people who sit for more than 6 hours a day on a chair are at a growing risk of encountering long-term back pains, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. This finding has been backed up by the big guys at the World Health Organisation—the WHO for you—while they add that, unfortunately, our efforts at attempting to cycle to work, or going to the gym at nights doesn’t really do much to help the situation. My back just did one of its signature creaky things to prove a point.
So how, in fact, do we help such a situation where sitting has become more of an occupational hazard, unlike smoking (although some would agree to disagree on that)? Walking to work isn’t a thing of the modern world anymore, given that the distance from our houses to the workplace is increasing with every high rise building that’s coming up in every mowed down forest area. Commuting has become just as tedious with long hours of standing in trains, buses and metros tiring you out, only naturally. Hence, we resort to easier modes of commute, like cabs in which we’re continuously sitting for just as long, if not longer, hours owing to the traffic congestion that spreads like wildfire.
According to Leandro Rezende of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, our sedentary lifestyles are a direct result of the current global economic situation—we are working like robots to earn the money we are paying off our credits with. It’s the survival of the fittest on a whole new and evolved level. Darwin would have wanted to see this. Strangely, it’s not even out of sheer laziness that we do it; this type of sitting is more of a cultural conditioning today, than an individual choice. Simply put, we can’t really help it. In the wake of trying to avoid the momentary exhaustion that takes over our bodies on a daily basis when we so much as attempt standing for too long or walking more than usual, we are ignoring the impending doom that comes with the semi-permanent sitting arrangement we have going on for us in our daily lives.
But, given the facts and the statistics that support them, I personally think that we owe it to ourselves to literally stand up for ourselves. While we may not see the health benefits of standing, almost immediately, we need to know that in the long run, it’s doing a lot of good to the spine; even making you appear taller than before because of the relief in pressure on your spine, according to Leah Hearle, Osteopath, Isokinetic Clinic on London’s Harley Street. She goes on to reveal that the rate of blood flow to your heart increases too, leading to the higher energy levels I talked about initially.
Mentally, the act of being constantly on the move, instead of being rooted to your chair, makes you feel more positive and alert than before. In fact, you will also come to realize that the whole walk and work thing actually proves to be better than your usual everyday jog—you develop a stronger spine, your muscle endurance is better, you feel less anxious and a lot more confident which is probably due to the consistent endorphin release, and it helps burn more calories—approximately 2,299 per day—than while you’re sitting—approximately 1,993 per day (obviously)!