August 27, 2018

Stand and Deliver

By Nikki G. Maples, Law Office of Nikki G. Maples, and member of the Austin Bar’s Health & Wellness Committee.

There, just in case anybody was curious about the benefits of prolonged sitting, hopefully the PSA will help everyone realize there are virtually no benefits from prolonged sitting.

Let’s talk about sitting.  Essentially, sitting requires no muscle movement or stability, other than tip-toeing approximately 6 inches from side to side to reach across your desk. Even then, most of us are sitting in swivel chairs that allow us to simply engage a long-arm reach across our desk to grab the phone.  Most people arrive at their office, plop down in their swivel chair (equipped with wheels so that we can easily roll from one place to another, also requiring zero physical activity) and remain in that position until we are called from our office throne, feel like grabbing a snack or need to use the restroom. Then, after the brief departure, we return to our throne where we remain until there is an actual need to stand again. It is rare that desk employees are active throughout the day simply because we are called to our throne to perform a task and to deliver work product.  Research is showing that Americans sit for nearly 6 hours per day…WHOA!

Let’s talk about standing.  We don’t need to be doctors or scientists to know that standing requires our body to engage muscles, many muscles. The obvious muscles are the ones in your legs and feet. Without putting too much thought into it, when we are standing, we must engage the tiny little tendons and muscles in our feet, which serve as our platforms. Once our feet are firmly planted, then we continue to engage other tendons and muscles from our calves, shins, knee joints, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip joints, and gluteus muscles. The activity may be slight, but it’s happening. If your muscles weren’t engaged, then you would fall. Moving up the body, the many muscles in your back and spine are forced to respond, as well as the many muscles in your abdomen and core. Finally, even your upper back and shoulder region is commanded to respond so that your spine stays aligned. When the body is working from head to toe to stabilize you, then your body is awake…seriously awake. With even slightly more movement, the body needs more oxygen so that blood flow is pumping as required. After reading this, one might think that the body is exerting a ton of energy just to stand. The research has indicated that standing burns approximately 50 more calories per hour than sitting. When your body is awake, your mind is awake. When your mind is awake, you will deliver better work product (I promise!) It’s a win-win!

So, how do we incorporate standing into our day without stepping away from our obligations to perform certain tasks? The answer: standing desks! The notion of a standing desk can be overwhelming because they can be expensive and cumbersome. However, I have found that there are an abundance of options for standing desks on Amazon.  For example, I purchased a desktop standing desk for myself and my paralegal on Amazon for approximately $90.00, but there are cheaper models and definitely more expensive models. The desktop standing desk that we use is adjustable and collapsible. In the event, I want to remove the standing desk, the legs on the desk collapse and it folds easily so that I can store it beside my filing cabinet out of sight. Here’s a picture:

A few fun facts about standing at your desk:

  1. Less risk of obesity.
  2. Reduced risk of cancer (study from 2011 reported that 43,000 cases of colon cancer and 49,000 cases of breast cancer annually are caused by prolonged sitting).
  3. Longer life (Americans increase their life expectancy by 2 years by reducing sitting time from the standard 6 hours to just 3 hours per day).
  4. Better posture.


Source: Huffington Post, “Benefits and Considerations of Using a Standing Desk”