On average, adults sit for about 6 hours each day. Now that more and more people have jobs that require staring at a computer screen, that number is increasing. So many of us spend most of our lives sitting on our butts….and we def shouldn’t be.
There are a ton of health risks that have been associated with sitting for too long. First of all, there’s weight gain. Sitting all day every day reduces the activity of lipoprotein lipase (an enzyme that helps us burn fat) by 90%. In English: sitting a lot leads to a slower metabolism. Besides weight gain, sitting for too long, too often has also been linked to cardiovascular disease. Too much sitting can increase blood pressure and shrink the diameter of the arteries, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Sitting too much has also been linked to osteoporosis. A lot of sitting decreases mineral bone density, which increases the chances of bone fractures. Being sedentary has also been correlated with decreased insulin sensitivity and diabetes (which go hand in hand). And that leads back to the weight gain. Yikes. Besides these specific risks, too much sitting has been linked to early death, in general.
What if you workout? The thing is, exercising doesn’t negate the effects of sitting on your butt all day long. So if you’re sitting for 8 hours at work or school, and then you drive to the gym and workout for an hour, you’re not saving yourself. Sure, exercise is good for you, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that you spent most of your day sitting down. Actually, it’s been shown that people who do exercise a lot are often the ones who sit more throughout the day, because they think, “Oh, I got my exercise.” (I used to be one of these people.)
Think about it. We weren’t designed to sit on our butts all day. We were designed to walk around and move throughout the day. A little sitting, a little standing, a little sprinting, a little lying. But definitely not sitting in a chair for 12 hours in a row, only getting up to go to the fridge and pee.
The best way to stay healthy? Don’t be sedentary! Try to spend half of your day standing or walking. First of all, take walking breaks during your work day. It’s not only good for your body, but it’s also good for your brain. You can’t just sit all day long. When someone calls you, get up and walk around while you talk. If you’re meeting with a friend or a coworker, walk and talk instead of sitting down for coffee. Just get up. It doesn’t mean you have to sprint walk. This isn’t about working out! It’s about moving, and not being on your butt. It can be slow movement, or just standing.
Another trick? I always either walk around or stand while I’m checking social media. Social media takes way too much time out of my day, and I’m not going to sit around while I go through my feed. You guys might have noticed that I walk in circles half the time when I’m making Insta-stories. My roommates think I’m weird, yes, but that’s okay. I’m preventing heart disease and diabetes! Score.
The big problem, though, is that there’s a lot of work I need to do throughout the day that I can’t do while moving. I know some people can read books while walking, but I can’t. I get dizzy. Enter: the standing desk. This has been a lifesaver. Ever since I bought a standing desk, I do almost all of my work standing up. At first it was weird, but now I can’t focus if I’m sitting down. I get antsy.
I bought a pretty cheap foldable table / standing desk on Amazon that I just stick on top of my desk to make it the right height for standing while working. There are a ton online, but this is the exact one I bought. You can go all out and buy a full-on standing desk if you want to, but it’s not really necessary. If you don’t want to buy anything, find somewhere in your living/work space that’s tall enough to act as your standing desk. For example, when I’m in my bedroom, I do my work on top of my dresser. It’s the perfect height. Out in the living room, I either use the little fold-out table I bought on Amazon, or we put our computers on top of the fireplace mantel. Get creative. Do you have a bar area? Maybe that’s a good height. A cabinet? A counter? Look around – I’m sure you’ll find something.
Besides preventing all of those unfortunate health risks I mentioned before, using a standing desk has other benefits, too. Working while standing has been shown to increase energy and productivity. One study suggests that working at a standing desk can increase productivity by 46%. I don’t know about you, but I want to be 46% more productive. Ben Greenfield (one of my idols) cites this all the time, so I’m all over it. Using a standing desk can also increase your core strength and might even help with your posture. Think about it…you probably hunch over when you sit at your desk. Lastly, standing more often will help you burn extra calories throughout the week. I hear it’s 87 more a day. Not a ton, but still.
People might think you’re weird at first, but whatever. They’re the ones missing out! Like most healthy habits, people will make fun of you at first, and then they’ll copy you. And they’ll be jealous they didn’t do it first. Once you get into the standing-while-working lifestyle, you might develop different feelings toward your favorite coffee shop that you usually do work at. That’s okay. You’ll eventually find a spot with a high enough table. OWN IT.
In all seriousness, I feel the difference. Now that I’m used to standing while working, I can’t go back to sitting. It makes me feel like a slug, and I can’t get as much done. I don’t have time to not get a lot done, and you probably don’t either. So get off your butt and work at a standing desk! You’ll thank me later.