I stumbled across two videos that did a great job explaining the dangers of sitting. This blog will highlight the first video, and our next blog will do the same for the second video.
Video 1: Why Sitting is Bad for You
Viewing Time: 5:05 min.
This awesome video is part of the TedEd Lessons Worth Sharing series. In the video Murat Dalkilinc investigates the hidden risks of sitting down. Not only is the video animation engaging but also the video is really educational and covers a lot of points that have not been mentioned in other articles and media coverage. It’s only five minutes of your time and definitely well worth the watch. Here are a few of the key points from the video:
One of the shortcomings of the video is it doesn’t cover practical solutions that can help people avoid prolonged periods of sitting. Standee Co. offers some great, in expensive solutions including stand-up desks and anti-fatigue mats.
Although a major focus of the standing desk community has been the adoption of the stand-up workstations at offices and workplaces (due to the higher age range), there has been a movement towards putting stand-up desks in classrooms as well. The reasoning: if stand-up desks increase alertness, engagement, and productivity in offices, shouldn’t they do the same in classrooms?
A recent study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health deduces that “standing workstations reduce disruptive behavior problems and increase students’ attention or academic behavioral engagement by providing students with a different method for completing academic tasks (like standing) that breaks up the monotony of seated work.” The study, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion, involved almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year. Preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which is equivalent to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time. Furthermore, previous studies at Texas A&M have shown that the desks can help reduce obesity, with students using standing desks burning 15 percent more calories than students at traditional desks (25 percent for obese children).
Since the studies have been published, there has been a movement of schools actually bringing in stand up desks to their classrooms. Crossfit’s Kelly Starrett, with help from DonorsChoose, is pioneering a new classroom style that’s improving students’ health and focus. In particular, by the beginning of the school year next August, there will be no chairs in any of the classrooms at Vallecito Elementary in San Rafael, California. This drastic change is based on the basic facts that many kids are sedentary as much as 80 to 90 percent of the time they’re awake, and over a lifetime, sitting for more than six hours a day increases the risk of death. Currently the school is raising funds for the new desks, and the Starretts have launched a nonprofit called StandUpKids to help spur the change in other schools. The couple hopes to raise a $1 million matching grant to support donations for individual schools across the country. The website StandUpKids.org walks you through the science behind the benefits of standing desks for students and also makes a case for people to support these programs. In 10 years, the Starretts hope that every public school in the U.S. is standing.
Another effort to bring desks into schools, although on a much smaller scale, involves three senior high school students bringing desks to a nearby elementary school. The three started “Stand Up Batavia,” a community service project to bring standing workstations into Batavia Elementary School. To start off, they hope to bring 18 desks (accompanied by stools) into three fourth grade classrooms. They hope to raise the $11,520 needed by the end of the year.
As there is a growing number of standing workstations in offices, there will be a subsequent increase in the number of workstations in classrooms as parents realize the great benefits from standing at work throughout the day. Also, the publishing of more studies regarding the effects of standing in the classroom on children will further push the concerned parent to make sure a change is made in their childrens’ classroom. A perfect workstation for your child to make the transition to standing at home or in the classroom is the Standee Classic. Schools and parents should also consider an ant-fatigue mat like the Standee Anti-Fatigue Mat to ensure comfort while the children stand. It will take a mass movement for the Starretts to achieve their goal of every public school in U.S. standing in the next 10 years, but it surely can be done. Does your child’s school have any stand up workstations? After reading this blog would you like them to? Give your child’s school a call and find out. It might be the best thing you can do for your child’s health, not to mention their academic performance.
In the midst of the Vertical Revolution, Americans across the country are using the health risks of sitting as the main ammunition to take over sedentary lifestyles. However, in reality, it should be termed the Vertical World War because the U.S. is not alone in this fight. Many other countries like Australia and Britain are taking a stand as well and urging the many citizens to follow suit. Great Britain, specifically, has a very useful website, GetBritainStanding.org, for anyone in the world considering making the switch to a sit-stand station.
GetBritainStanding.org has rich content on the many aspects of sedentary work environments. The content helps to inform people of the health risks associated with sitting as well as offer solutions to employers and employees. Under the health risks tab, “The Sitting Problem,” is presented along with the top 10 health risks and the research that has been done thus far. Furthermore, there is a tab for their "Active Working” campaign that has many resources for educating companies on the productivity, engagement, and reduced absenteeism benefits of Active Working.
Two tabs on GetBritainStanding.org I would like to highlight as being very useful are the “Employers” and “Solutions” tabs. The section for employers has a comprehensive review of everything one needs to know to convert his or her office from a sedentary to an active work environment. This tab also includes key information for employers, the costs of sitting, regulations, and other necessary parts for an employer to consider. It also has a link to reserve a spot at the annual Active Working Summit, where companies are educated on the many benefits of active working. The “Solutions” tab is also significant because it offers many sit-stand solutions with desktop risers similar to the Standee Classic, help with getting started, as well as discount vouchers. Moreover, in this tab there is a section for one to post and read stories and experiences regarding the switching to a sit-stand station as well as Q & A.
One of the unique features on this site is the “Sitting Calculator” which is conveniently placed directly on the homepage. This calculator allows you to determine your risk level based on your sitting time. To do this, the calculator asks you to estimate the time you spend sitting daily while you eat, commute, work, and relax. After estimating the amount of time in each of these areas, you hit calculate and see your risk level which ranges from “low” to “very high.” Next time you get a chance, go on to GetBritainStanding.org and check out your risk level, it may motivate you to start standing today!
GetBritainStanding.org does a great job at including the necessary information one needs if they are considering switching to an active work environment. Although many of the statistics displayed on the site such as “British people sit for 8.9 hours each day (on average)” are directed towards the British, all of the information regarding the health risks and transition to standing is universal and should be brought to the attention people around the world that are making, or considering to make, the change. Check it out now.
As more and more research surfaces revealing the negative health effects of sitting, people are attempting to find ways to combat those adverse health effects. Recently, an Indiana University study has found that walking for five minutes every hour can reverse harm caused to leg arteries during an hour of prolonged sitting.
The reasoning behind this claim is that when you sit, slack muscles do not contract to effectively pump blood to the heart. Hence, blood can pool in the legs and affect the endothelial function of arteries, or the ability of blood vessels to expand from increased blood flow. This university study is the first experimental evidence of these effects.
During this study, researchers were able to demonstrate that the expansion of the arteries, as a result of increased blood flow of the main artery in the legs, was impaired by as much as 50 percent after just one hour. However, the participants who walked for five minutes after every hour of sitting saw no change in their arterial function.
The study involved 11 non-obese, healthy men with ages ranging from 20 to 35 who participated in two randomized trials. In one trial they sat for three hours without moving their legs. In the other trial they sat for a three-hour period but also walked on a treadmill for five minutes at the speed of 2 mph halfway through each hour. Researchers used a blood pressure cuff and ultrasound technology to measure the functionality of the femoral artery at baseline and again at each hour mark.
The study, “Effect of Prolonged Sitting and Breaks in Sitting Time on Endothelial Function,” will be published in the spring in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
American adults sit for about eight hours a day. The health effects are visible after just one hour. Knowing this, everyone should take action to disrupt prolonged sitting every hour, whether it’s working at a stand up desk or taking a break to walk for five minutes through the office.
The main idea behind an active work environment is to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. Therefore, if you sit at a desk for the majority of the day, there are many exercises that you can do to disrupt your time sitting.
There are many ways to avoid sitting all day such as using a stand up desk like the Standee Classic or simply getting out of your chair and doing a few exercises. If you are creative, the office provides a perfect place to get in a quick workout.
There are multiple office exercises that you can find with a simple Google search, but which ones make the most sense? Here are 10 of my favorites:
1. Tricep Desk Dips
Place your butt on the edge of your desk, and then place your palms on the edge of the desk on either side of you. Keeping your feet together, bend at the elbows and slide forward off the desk and dip down a few inches, and then push back up. Dip to where your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Do this 20 times. For a variation, put your feet on a chair.
2. Carpal Tunnel Reliever
You shouldn’t suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome if you do this exercise daily. Stand at your desk, and with arms straight, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch. Do for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed through the day.
3. Water Bottle Workouts
As most offices don’t have workout equipment, a full water bottle can work as the perfect light dumbbell.
Sit tall with abs pulled in. Hold water bottle in right hand and curl it up towards your shoulder. Repeat 15 times. Change arms.
You can also use your water bottle to do front arm raises and overhead presses.
Hold your water bottle in right hand. Bend elbow. Extend arm overhead. Repeat on other side.
Water bottle twists are a great way to work your waistline.
Hold water bottle at chest level. Twist to the right as far as you can. Twist back to center. Twist to the left. Repeat 10 times.
4. The Wall (Street) Sit
Wall sits are great for building strength and endurance. Standing with your back against the wall, bend the knees and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit and hold for 30-60 second.
5. The Seated Leg Raiser
This incognito stretch will allow you to get in a good stretch without having all your co-workers notice. While seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for five or more seconds. Then lower your leg(s) back to the ground without letting your feet touch the floor. Repeat (alternating legs if raising them separately) for 15 reps. You can also put a purse or briefcase strap over your ankle for added weight, or for more of an abs workout, add a crunch.
6. The Knuckle Sandwich
For a great arm workout, try shadow boxing. Stand (if you can) and throw out a few jabs, hooks, and uppercuts in rapid succession. Continue for a minute or longer to blow off steam and tone the arms, chest, and core.
7. The Hulk
Walk in place and lean forward. With your elbows bent and fists together in front, move your arms like wings. Try to touch your shoulder blades together. 20 reps.
Lap your block or a floor of your office. Try for a pace of 100 steps per minute, which is an easy pace to maintain around the office. Walk for 10 min.
9. Take the Stairs. While You're At It, Run Up Them
Instead of using the elevator to move between floors, take the stairs. Start off walking, but work your way up to a full out sprint. This is a great way to get an intense leg workout while at the office.
10. Get a Standing Desk
One of the best things you can do to combat the health risk from sitting is to get a standing desk. The negative health effects on your weight and health, including hip and back stiffness and pain, that come from sitting down all day will disappear. You can even lean against your standing desk while you are working and do simple calf stretches.
Many people believe that in order to reap the benefits of standing, you must replace your desk. It can be very expensive to replace your existing office desk with a height adjustable standing desk. This is not necessary. There are many options that will allow you to stand without replacing your entire desk such as add-on podiums like the Standee Classic. If you have an add-on feature to your desk then you are able to stand without spending a large sum of money.
Just because you are switching to a stand up desk you do not have to stand all day. It takes time to build up the strength to stand for long periods of time. Starting out you can stand for a short time span like 20 minutes every couple hours and then slowly begin to stand for longer periods of time. Switching to standing is a process, not a simple transition.
Standing for prolonged periods of time does not cause varicose veins. Rather, varicose veins and other vein conditions are caused by the failure of the leg pump. In leg pump failure, the blood goes down the arteries from the heart into the leg, but the veins cannot pump the blood back out of the leg. Failure of the leg pump is usually due to the valves failing- a condition generally attributable to genetics. Standing for long periods of time does not cause varicose veins, but in some cases they may allow them to form more quickly in people who already have lost their valves when they were younger.
In order to fully reap the benefits of standing, you don’t just need to stand, you need to stand the correct way. There are many different aspects to the correct standing posture such as keeping your head and shoulders back as well as putting most of your weight on the balls of your feet. Check out our blog “The Correct Way to Stand and Sit” for more information on the proper standing posture.
The fact that you can stand to do work at your new stand up desk does not mean it is the right one for you. It is essential that you have a desk that is the right height. Standing the correct way, your arms should be resting on the desk at a 90° angle. Make sure you choose the height of desk that will allow for that angle, and don’t forget to take into account the extra height you will gain from an anti-fatigue mat (which is highly recommended) like the Standee Mat. See the “How to Choose What Size Standee” chart for more information on choosing the correct height for your desk.
As the negative health effects of the sedentary work environment are going mainstream there are many people switching from sitting to standing at work every day. Standing is better for you than sitting, but only if you are standing the correct way. Using the correct posture when standing, and when sitting, is important for your body to reap the benefits of this postural rotation.
When standing, you want your entire body to be aligned from head to toe. In essence, you want to be able to draw a straight line down your body. To do this, you should put most of your weight on the balls of your feet; don’t be standing back on your heels. Have your feet apart, shoulder-width. Have your knees slightly bent, do not lock them and cut off blood circulation. Even though you are most likely looking at a monitor, keep your head back, directly on top of the spine. Do not let the screen pull it forward. Keep your shoulders back and upright. If you are standing for long periods of time, it is important to shift your weight from one leg to another in order to not put too much strain on a given area. When standing at a stand up desk, make sure your desk is at the proper height for your arms to be resting at a 90° angle. See the “How to choose what size Standee” chart for more details. Also, standing on an anti-fatigue mat, like the Standee Mat, reduces foot strain and makes it comfortable to stand for long periods of time.
When sitting, the two major actions to avoid are leaning forward and slouching. You should align your back with the back of the office chair. Arms should be bent between 75° and 90°, so make sure to adjust your desk/chair height accordingly. Your knees should be level with your hips, or even slightly above your hips when sitting in your office chair. Place both feet flat on the floor. Just like standing, you should have your shoulders back and aligned with your body. Even if you are maintaining proper posture when sitting, try to not sit for long periods of time. Stretch, walk, stand, and be active throughout the day in the workplace.
Working actively, the correct way, will prove to be very beneficial for your body as well as your productivity at work. Work better and feel better.
Think about your job or the job you hope to have; how much physical activity does it require? Given that sedentary habits have become so institutionalized in the workplace and engrained in our daily routines, reversing the sedentary work environment epidemic is a difficult undertaking. However, this process has already begun with a number of solutions.One recent solution that has emerged is standing desks. Standing desks enable an individual to be active at his or her desk. Stand-up desks come in many different forms. There are fully adjustable standing desks that allow you to change your desk into a standup desk electronically, and there are add-on podiums like the Standee Classic XL if you don’t want to replace your entire desk. At the extreme end of the spectrum, there are treadmill-standing desks, which enable you to walk on a treadmill while working.
People who have standing desks should engage in “postural rotation,” which involves alternating between sitting and standing positions throughout the day. Postural rotation is important because standing all day can also be strenuous on your body. You don’t have to have an adjustable stand up desk to practice postural rotation. Generally, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from standing by sitting at lunch, sitting in a meeting, and sitting in your car during your commute. Standing desks are going mainstream, particularly in the tech world at companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Another solution involves exercising while at work through company gyms and exercise programs. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company Title IX has a 2,200 square foot gym in its office and an instructor comes in often to lead “CrossFit-like workout[s].” Many other companies have followed suit. Wellness programs like these have resulted in greater productivity, a decline in absenteeism, and reduced long-term health care costs, according to Inc. Magazine.
A complimentary solution to exercise programs is providing healthy food in the company cafeteria. According to Inc. Magazine, offering employees healthy meal options boosts their performance while also satisfying their nutritional needs. Healthy food is a necessary part of any company wellness program.
The facts speak for themselves. Though it is a daunting task, every workplace should strive to make the transition from a sedentary to an active work environment. Companies that fail to do so are doing both themselves and their employees a disservice in terms of productivity and health. As more companies implement active work environments, they will set an example for their peer companies, and ultimately it will become a competitive requirement.
It is not solely the employers’ responsibility to make the change from a sedentary work environment, however. Potential employees can and should be putting pressure on companies to make the transition as well. In an interview, one of the job candidate's go-to questions for the company should be, "Have you done anything to address the problem of sedentary work environments?" This might seem strange, but slowly, this tactic is sure to create change in the workplace. And if you already have a job, inform your employer about the health risks of sitting and the long-term benefits of an active work environment.
As the research indicating the negative health effects of sedentary lifestyles gains momentum, so too will active workplace alternatives. Companies that are ahead of the curve will benefit greatly. We all need to combat the negative health effects of the sedentary work environment. Let’s take the necessary steps to stop being a society of sitters.
My story might be similar to a some of yours. Athletics have been a huge part of my life since my childhood. I’ve always exercised regularly. I eat a plant-based, whole foods diet (i.e., vegan) and am conscientious about making good health choices. A few years ago, I developed a hip flexor injury after a ski trip. I went to physical therapy and learned what I thought was a running injury was actually a “sitting injury.” My physical therapist explained to me that when you sit for prolonged periods of time, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your legs and hips get short and tight. This is the opposite of what happens when you run, walk, or stand. I guess years of sitting at a desk grinding it out for 12-18 hours a day finally caught up with me.
In addition to stretching and strengthening to solve my injury, I decided to start standing at work. I had the guys in our shop make a little podium that I could put on top of my desk. I put my laptop on top of the podium. It was a pretty basic set-up, but it worked. Standing enabled me to elongate my hip flexor muscles which really helped to reduce the tightness in my hips. I found myself doing calf stretches throughout the day as well. In general, I found myself moving around a lot more during the day and not having that compression in my lower back that starts to build up after hours of sitting. I got an anti-fatigue mat that was really cushy and made standing really easy. I found that all of the benefits of standing that I had read about were true. I felt more active, more productive, more alert, more empowered, and just generally healthier.
After realizing how much standing helped me, we decided to start making stand-up desks for other people with the idea that maybe we could help them too. We came up with a simple but elegant design. Like the solution the guys in the shop made for me, our first product, The Standee Classic, was a desktop podium product that folded flat and easily assembled with no tools. We added the Standee Classic-XL to meet the needs of our customers who wanted a larger desk podium with a little more real estate to work. We also added a really great anti-fatigue mat to complement our standing desk product line which we ingeniously named “StandeeMat.”
We wanted to make our stand up desks out of eco-friendly materials so we chose bamboo, which is not only beautiful, but it is one of the most eco-friendly materials on earth. We also wanted to make our desks in the U.S., not just because we wanted superior craftsmanship, but because we wanted to do our small part in helping to create jobs and support the U.S. economy.
It’s been interesting to watch the market for stand-up desks grow. A lot of companies offer full-desk solutions with “adjustable height” models that go up and down with the push of a button. I suppose there are people who are looking to replace their conventional desk with a fancy solution. But, for me, I think it is all about standing. I view it more as an issue of will than an issue of equipment. I don’t need a fancy motorized desk to stand. I just want to stand and feel better. It reminds me of those guys who get the fancy weight lifting and exercise equipment and get everything synced with their new iPhone exercise app. I like the approach where you just run hard for an hour or accomplish just as much with a simple set of dumb bells and a pull-up bar. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to stand at work. You just need to stand. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to sit—meetings, lunch, commuting, etc. My advice is to start standing and not worry about finding a solution that makes it easy to sit.
When the Standee team set out to create a new benchmark for the Standing Desk market, two things were important to our mission.
We set a goal to make whatever we could here in America and secondly, offer a sustainable version of a Standing Desk that offered a high value item built to last.
Bamboo became an object of our affection as we learned more about it. It became clear early on that our entry round of products needed to be a simple solution crafted from sustainable Bamboo and made in America.