Take a Stand for your Health: The benefits of using a standing desk
Purpose: After my speech, the audience will have knowledge of the benefits of using a standing desk.
Thank you Madam Toastmaster. Fellow Toastmasters and visiting guests, thank you for allowing me to speak to you on this evening.
One of the first things I noticed when I started working at Adfitech was there was one person in IT that was using a standing desk. I was the “new guy,” and had many things to learn, so I was hesitant to approach Jake and ask about the standing desk. Jake eventually began to work remotely from London, so I did not have an opportunity to talk to him about his reasoning for switching to a standing-desk. Over the next couple of months, several other people in IT made the switch to a standing-desk.
I took it upon myself to research the topic. During my research, several benefits were found. I found using a standing desk has a positive impact on your cardiovascular and skeletal systems, and there is a boost in cognitive function.
Benefit 1 – Cardiovascular System
Sitting for a prolonged period of time has a negative impact on your cardiovascular system. Sitting for more than 90 minutes at a time decreases the blood flow behind your knees by close to 50%. This decrease in blood flow increases the risk of developing a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis.
A study out of Australia found that individuals who sit for long periods of time on a consistent basis are more at risk for developing heart disease. The study also found that the negative impacts associated with long periods of sitting are not countered by exercise. The study did find, however, the negative impacts are lessened by breaking up periods of being sedentary.
Since I haven’t had the proper health tests both before and after staring to use a standing desk, I cannot say for sure that I have experienced a positive benefit on my cardiovascular system.
I can say that hearing the results of some of the research has been a major motivating factor in making the switch. I consider myself a healthy and active person, so it was alarming to hear that the negative effects of prolonged sitting cannot be mitigated with exercise. That, alone, was reason enough for me to make the switch. Moving from the circulatory system, the skeletal system also benefits positively from using a standing desk.
Benefit 2 – Skeletal System
To remain in a standing position, certain muscles in our legs and lower back have to contract. Some of these muscles are not activated during the time our body is in a sitting position, so spending more time standing will cause an increase in strength in the legs and lower back.
Sitting for long periods of time can have a negative impact on your hip flexors. The hip flexors are a series of muscles that allow you to lift your leg in front of you. As you can imagine, prolonged periods of sitting can cause these muscles to shorten. Shortened hip flexors can lead to muscular imbalances that can have negative impacts on your knees and your lower back.
During my time in graduate school, I sustained an injury to my lower back during a game of basketball. A lot of my time was spent sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer. My lower back did not have much of an opportunity to heal. In efforts to strengthen my core and lower back, I started doing yoga about 9 months ago. I found myself struggling with yoga poses that require a lot of flexibility in the hip flexors. Since switching to a standing desk, I find these poses are getting easier each week.
I will offer a word of caution. Making the transition was not a walk in the park. Going from sitting 8+ hours a day to standing had an effect on my feet. The first month was pretty tough. I kept a stool next to my desk, and I would stand for 30 minutes and sit for 30 minutes. This lessened the impact on my feet, but I still had soreness. My body has adapted to this, however, and I can now stand continuously without any problems. If you are going to try this, I recommend purchasing a rubber mat to stand on. You would not think a thin piece of rubber would make a difference, but I can assure you, it does. Even when you have fully adjusted to standing all day, it is best to take breaks and sit down. Just as sitting all day is bad for you, standing all day is bad for you too. Everything in moderation. The final portion of your body that is benefited from working at a standing desk is your brain.
Benefit 3 – Increased Cognitive Function
Working from a standing position allows blood to flow more freely in your body. There is an increase in blood flow to the brain, which allows you to be more productive and focused at your job.
I can certainly say that I feel more focused at work. Occasionally personnel from the business side of the company will need to come talk to me about issues they are having, or if they desire new functionality be added to an application they are using. Since making the switch to a standing desk, I am able to focus more intensely on what they are saying.
I have been able to be more productive at work since making the change. This feeling of increased productivity could be attributed to me having more experience at my job, but I feel some of it is associated with being in a standing position. Whenever I am in the process of designing a new piece of software, or am stuck on the best way to write a chunk of code, I like to step away from the desk and move around a little bit. That is not really an option for me, if I’m in a seated position. Having that freedom to move around allows me to be more productive, otherwise a lot of time would be spent fidgeting in the chair.
In conclusion, I have been very happy with the decision to switch to a standing desk at work. I’m happy I work for a company that has the resources to allow it’s employees to make that decision. I encourage you to try one at your work or in your home. If you do, I look forward to hearing the results you have experienced. Thank you. Madam Toastmaster, the floor is yours.