The jury is still out regarding the benefits of using a Standing Work Station so I can only go with my own experience. Years ago I attended a big conference on Occupational Health and Safety in the office. After various speakers had their say, the consensus was that the most important thing to do is to mix it up because no one posture, if kept too long, was good.
My inexpensive, cheap and cheerful standing work station complete with my really big “Atlas of the Human Body” and a couple of Italian books provides a much needed opportunity to stand, to move and to stretch my back. Not only that but when I’m reading, rather than writing, I move my feet around and just generally move. Being a bit of a Qigong nut, I love those soft gentle movements, so I’ll often find myself rotating my hips or moving from side to side. Ha ha. Sounds very strange but at 62 I’m determined to be just as fit at 72 and certainly I’ll be doing exercises like this at 82 to keep the body fluids moving and the vertebrae stretched. My grandmother and aunt both had the awful humped back you see on old ladies and men which looks so painful and probably is. Avoiding that outcome is a real consideration.
New research looks at the brain’s need for glucose, the primary brain fuel. “Exposure of the brain to high glucose levels and low glucose levels can increase the risk of dementia.” says researchers Michael Wheeler, Daniel Green, David Dunstan and Paul Garder. “Fluctuating between high and low glucose levels known as high variability, is important, as higher glucose variability has been associated with lower cognitive function.”
Hypothetical data illustrating the effects of sitting versus intermittent walking on glucose control in response to a meal.Author provided/The Conversation, CC BY-ND
There are certainly negatives with jobs where you stand all day because the risk of varicose veins can increase and standing at a work station like mine where I’m using a laptop can have an adverse effect on your neck. The screen can’t be elevated and there is definitely a chance of getting a stiff neck if you don’t look after it. So why do I really like my ‘Standing Desk’? Well, I know that if I sit down to work, fully intending to take those recommended breaks, I can sit for two or sometimes three hours, engrossed in my work. Then I’ll get up to have a break and sit down again almost immediately with a cup of teaJ The recommended walk boils down to the thirty second walk to put the kettle on followed by the walk to the table.
The advent of ‘Fitbits’ is amazing but if you’re like me and do really well for a few weeks then end up with the Fitbit never seeing the light of day, then standing to work could definitely be a good option. Use that proof reading time to step away from the computer and move. Use the thinking time, to look out of the window for a moment and smile.
Movement brings you back to your body so that you become more conscious of the position of your spine. Are your shoulders hunched up? Is your jaw tight? Are your back and neck straight? How is your breathing? Someone I know really well has a habit of holding their breath which is a worry. Lack of oxygen to the brain can affect performance so make sure that you check in and take slow deep breaths when you can. Tension in the jaw neck and shoulders can cause really debilitating pain over time.
If like me, you want to age gracefully, without the tensions brought on by sitting too long at your desk, give the stand up desk a go.
Elena is a Wellness Coach with years of office experience, teaching about OHS as well as experience in wellness and health management. Do contact [email protected] if you’d like a personal assessment or just a chat.