The Importance of Standing Up For Your Health
Standing up for something means raising your voice in support of an idea, a person or the like, especially when it is not getting the recognition it should. This is exactly what this article is about – standing up for your health, literally as well as metaphorically. By standing up it means sitting for less time. The time we spend sitting on our desks is counted as sedentary i.e. no activity is done during that time. The more sedentary a person has, the higher are his chances of developing diseases affecting his whole body. The most obvious disorder is becoming overweight or even obese, which in turn puts extra pressure on the joints, causing back pain and arthritis; an extra load on the blood and the cardiovascular system, causing heart disease and vascular disease. It has also been linked with illnesses such as depression and memory loss.
Sitting is primarily a problem for the individuals whose work is such that they have to sit at desks for all their work hours. It becomes even worse if the sitting is in front of a computer because then in addition to the above stated conditions the person also gets eye disorders, postural deformities and even migraines. Sitting harms health in the following ways:
- Musculo - Skeletal Conditions : Sitting at a chair reduces blood circulation in the legs, as it especially cuts it off at the knees where the arteries are pressed against the chair. This gives rise to vascular conditions in the lower legs. Lack of movement in the knees also causes them to lose some functionality over time. At a desk the person’s arms and wrists also do not move much, with only fingers doing most of the work and them eventually being overused. The posture of a person sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen is usually extremely poor, eventually causing diseases of the spine like frozen shoulders and cervical immobility, backache in various sections of the spine, etc.
- Sensory Conditions : the eyes of a person sitting in front of a computer screen usually do not move much and constantly keep switching between bright monitors and dull papers or black computer accessories. Thus the person is likely to develop vision defects.
- Metabolic Conditions : sitting for 8-10 hours a day and eating, sipping tea and having snacks on the desk itself makes the person eventually gain weight. People doping such jobs get so soaked in their work that they forget moving even while being seated at their desks. Usually the workspaces where such jobs are done are separated by cabins and this further increases a person’s likelihood to overeat, because there is no distraction from food. In such cases the person develops many metabolic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, etc.
- Cardiovascular Conditions : keeping sitting for long durations not only overloads the blood vessels with excess fat, glucose and cholesterol but also makes the heart lazy since it doesn’t have to work hard for anything, it knows that the person is not going to do any activity and the heart becomes lazy and thus overworked. It leads to abnormal heart rate which itself can take the form of many life threatening conditions of the heart. Reduced blood circulation in the legs puts the individual at the risk of developing vascular diseases such as deep vein thrombosis and blood pooling.
- Mental And Nervous Disorders : being glued to a heap of files or a computer screen inside a boxy cabin poses threat to mental and nervous health of an individual. People having to work in such circumstances may develop frustration, stress, anxiety, anger management issues, tension, lack of expression and understanding, and even depression, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
The Benefits of Standing Up
On the other hand, standing up and moving a little in between working hours is a great way to avoid many diseases. By standing up and taking little breaks you can also get the following benefits:
- You can avoid excess weight gain: weight is gained when calories consumed are more than calories burnt. Our body burns calories even when we are not doing anything. But, that’s not enough to balance all the calories we gain from the foods we eat. If you stand up for short durations during work and take small steps around the disk itself, you can burn additional calories.
- You can avoid sugar spikes: after we eat anything or consume our blood sugar levels rise instantly. When we sit in a chair all day and have our tea, lunch and even snacks at the same seat, our blood glucose or sugar level spikes are not resolved as they could if we were moving a little here and there. In fact, we suggest that to keep blood sugar spikes in check, one should keep alternating from standing to sitting after every few minutes to maintain physical activity.
- You can prevent heart diseases: the heart works hard when we stand or move. People who do standing jobs such as chefs, waiters, bus conductors, school teachers, cleaners and gardeners, and the like, have a lesser susceptibility to developing heart diseases.
- You can avoid back pain: while sitting in a chair we are more likely to hunch our backs and strain our necks. Prolonged sitting puts the spine in a bad position which in turn causes back pain that becomes chronic. Standing up increases one’s consciousness and improves posture. It can help reduce chronic back pain in the long term and even prevent it altogether.
- You can avoid stress and anxiety: while sticking to one seat a person is not able to manage a lot of work because the overall energy level of a person is the least while sitting and working. Standing up for work can greatly improve one’s mood and the willingness to finish tasks.
- You can be more productive: standing up while working or during breaks can break laziness and monotony. It can also increase alertness and prevent afternoon drowsiness. Improved alertness means lesser errors and better quality of work. Thus overall productivity can be improved if some work is done while standing up.
- You may live longer: sedentary lifestyle, or particularly sedentary working hours put you at the risk of all the conditions that are mentioned above. By standing up you can not only avoid these but you may also live longer – and healthier.
How To Increase Standing During The Day
Give the following tips a try to include some physical movement in your routine, and also eliminate factors contributing to development of diseases, especially at work:
- Use a standing desk. A standing desk is a table of suitable height where you can stand for small durations and work easily.
- Drink enough water. It will keep you hydrated and keep blood circulation normal.
- Keep gently stretching your body parts in between.
- Bring healthy tiffin to work.
- During lunch break try to get off your seat for at least ten minutes a day.
- Use the stairs in the office and not the lift.
- Wash your eyes in between.
- Maintain a suitable distance from the desk and the computer screen
- Take care of your posture while working
- Try to let in more natural light in the room
- Do not over consume tea or coffee at work
- Discard faulty hardware which needs extra force to be operated
- Use a comfortable chair which has a suitable back and height compared to the level of the computer screen or the desktop
- Try to walk in between hours.
ConclusionSitting for long hours is a threat to health in many respects. We suggest everyone in such a job that requires them to sit at a desk and a chair for long hours, take these conditions seriously and include some level of activity in their working hours so that not only the calorific consumption is normalized but also eye strain and migraine can also be avoided. Standing up can also be beneficial as a break from the sitting as it changes the angle of the viewer from the screen and also improves blood circulation in the legs which were not getting enough blood circulation while sitting at a chair. Standing up and moving a little here and there at regular intervals is therefore highly recommended.
Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan
MD (ALT. MEDICINE) View Profile