By J. A. Young
A long day at court and, perhaps, stuck in traffic on the way back to the office—many a lawyer has enjoyed the thought of kicking back in their comfortable office chair to finish off the day and mentally de-stress. Yet the notion of eliminating stress while sitting down has been challenged by the medical community. Exercise, of course, has been associated with decreased stress levels, but as the University of Texas asserted, “sitting around can mean letting stress accumulate in your body” (cmhc.utexas.edu/stress.html). So instead of hunkering down in your chair after a court case or lunch meeting, try tackling stress on your feet behind a standing desk.
Working behind a desk for the better part of each day is simply a matter of course for many professionals. As an example, many attorneys might find themselves sitting for hours at a time while contemplating their work. Not only can sitting for long periods place considerable stress on your back, sitting is not associated with a healthy lifestyle.
Standing, however, allows a person to burn more calories and reduces the risk for chronic back pain associated with occupations where people do a lot of sitting. Because excessive sitting has been linked to other health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, standing may allow people to decrease these risks. Moreover, standing can impact the body’s circulation and allow it to move. Simply shifting weight from side to side or swing one’s leg is more action—more exercise—than one experiences while sitting down to work.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives, according to the most recent ADAA survey on stress and anxiety disorders” (adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st). To combat this daily stress, many people turn to physical activity. The ADAA also asserted that “Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.”
Consequently, standing up to work as opposed to sitting down can dramatically impact the way many attorneys combat stress—both mental and physical stress. The same endorphins that are released and act as natural “pain killers” during exercise also are associated with diminishing anxiety and stress.
The quick answer—standing up to work may certainly make you feel like a better person all the way around. Sitting down too much can cause a person to feel lethargic and certainly not at their best. Standing can increase attention and focus; it’s one reason why many schools are turning to standing desks. Many law firms have already adopted stand up desks to suit increasing numbers of attorneys who prefer to work on their feet for the many reasons listed above. According to an article in Legal Intelligence (law.com/jsp/pa/PubArticlePA.jsp?id=1202430025133&slreturn=20130601095253), many younger lawyers are driving this new healthier work trend in various firms throughout the country and results have been positive. Yet no matter what your age, you may be able to achieve greater health benefits and reduce your stress level merely by switching from sitting to standing while on the job.
Have a stressful career that you think a standing desk could help with? We want to know.. leave a comment below!