How many of you have felt the daily discomfort, stiffness or pain in your upper back, neck or shoulders, and even your lower back or knees after sitting through a long or stressful workday? Did you know the average American spends 55% of the waking time sitting according to a Vanderbilt University study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke) as those with standing jobs. When we sit for longer than one hour at a time without getting up to move, stretch, or fidget our muscles, bodies, and brains begin to shut down at the metabolic and cellular level.
Sitting disease is estimated to affect 88 million people (about one in three) who are sedentary in America. When we sit down, the electrical activity in your leg muscles shut off and the powerful and life giving enzyme Lipoprotein Lipase, that breaks down and metabolizes fats and sugars in our body, begins to slow down by 90 percent. Lack of daily movement and prolonged sitting leads to low enzyme activity which contributes overtime to weight gain, weak abdominal muscles, very tight hip muscles, high triglycerides (bad cholesterol), metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart attacks and stroke and even many cancers. Not only that but sitting for longer than one hour also slows down overall brain function and your ability to focus.
The enzyme Lipoprotein Lipase eventually shuts off after 60 to 90 minutes of inactivity. Physical movement, such as; walking, reaching, pushing or pulling, lifting, standing up to work or stretching for up to 50% of your workday, are all activities that improve or stimulate this enzyme activity thereby raising your metabolism. These functional daily movements also reduce triglyceride levels (bad cholesterol) and greatly improve your ability to concentrate and focus from the heart and muscles pumping of fresh blood and oxygen that comes with movement. You also raise your HDL level (good cholesterol), and the enzymes such as lipoprotein lipase help to regulate our blood sugar levels throughout the day, which is a primary determinant of our daily energy level, ability of focus, and overall well-being!
Office workers are more likely to suffer from lower back pain than manual workers due to the awkward sitting posture habits of crossing your legs, sitting on your feet, pulling your legs back underneath your chair, or slouching and sitting with your legs spread wide apart (very common awkward posture habit for males). Our awkward sitting posture habits are one of the leading risk factors for lower back, knee, hip, sciatica, and even shoulder pain or stiffness, or tendonitis of the elbow, wrist, and thumbs, even carpal tunnel syndrome.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to study the effectiveness of offering sit-to-stand workstations by reducing the daily sitting time and improving worker health and well-being in the 2011 “Take-a-Stand-Project”. They conducted this study over seven weeks with 34 subjects, using intervention and control groups from Minneapolis, Minnesota among employees with computer operations, telephone interactions, and administrative duties.
The Take-a-Stand Project results were transformational, and project concluded that an individual may achieve these results by standing for only one additional hour daily (or in four increments of 15 minutes):
- 87% felt more energized and comfortable at work
- 75% felt healthier overall
- 71% felt more focused and 66% felt more productive by being able to easily adjust from sitting to standing throughout the workday
- 100% reported feeling better from being allowed to choose between sitting and standing daily!
- 54% felt reduced upper back, neck, and shoulder stiffness and pain
8 Benefits of Sit-to-Stand Workstations:
- Improves alertness and energy level throughout your workday.
- Promotes weight loss, and discourages “mindless eating” by raising your metabolism. Standing for three to four hours per day is equal to running ten marathons each year as far as calories burned.
- Standing greatly reduces stiffness and pain to your lower back, knees, and hips, upper back, neck and shoulders too.
- Standing strengthens your hips, legs, ankles, and feet, and slows the loss of muscle as we age.
- Improves your balance.
- Reduces risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack and stroke (heart disease), diabetes, and even cancer.
- Allows deeper breathing than while sitting by using your diaphragm which greatly reduces daily stress and muscle tension to your upper back, neck, and shoulders.
- Improved Well-Being and Vitality at work, home, rest, and play!
Don’t sit if you can stand, don’t stand if you can walk, and if you can do something manually and safely don’t use a machine. The more we can actively use our bodies the healthier and more vital we will be.