Sitting is the New Smoking

North Memorial Better Health Blog Author Logo
March 30, 2017

There’s a new adage in wellness: Sitting is the new smoking.

Researchers have found that sitting for long periods of time is linked to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic disease. Some doctors believe prolonged daily sedentary behavior can increase your risk of heart disease by up to 147 percent. Moreover, researchers have concluded that obesity has overtaken smoking for premature death.

But what do we do if we’re confined to a desk 8-plus hours a day for work?

Standing desks have been found to have significant benefits for people with desk jobs. While studies pertaining to the benefits are still in early stages, there are some findings that correlate the reduction in sugar levels and the increase in metabolism to standing at a desk. Studies have shown that just by standing instead of sitting, you can burn up to 850 more calories a week.

Standing at your desk can be beneficial to your blood sugar level, too. In general, the higher your blood sugar levels after eating, the worse it is for your health. One study had found office workers who stood for 180 minutes after a meal were able to lower their blood sugar spike by a whopping 43 percent. Another found that alternating standing and sitting for 30 minutes throughout the day lowered blood sugar spikes by 11 percent.

But while the standing desk is great to help burn some calories at work, it should be used in moderation. Just taking breaks from sitting has been shown to help. Standing burns on average 20 percent more calories than sitting does, but does take more energy, so it is recommended to ease into longer standing increments – start with increasing time after lunch.

There are many standing desks available that are adjustable, so they can also be used for sitting (they’re also known as sit-stand desks). They cost $200 to $2,000. Whether you invest in a nice one right off the bat, or try to make one of your own, it seems like standing at your desk is a practice worth looking into to improve your health.

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