The disadvantages of a sedentary lifestyle have been discussed in the past. But the findings of a new study are urging people to explore the subject with renewed vigour. A new Texas A&M University (USA) study claims that “employees who use sit-stand desks are 46% more productive than those at traditional desks”. The concept of standing workstations is slowly gaining popularity in India.
Experts, too, believe that some amount of movement during office hours can go a long way in maintaining a healthier lifestyle. “Standing requires the entire body to stabilise and coordinate itself in order to attain an erect posture. Standing is the position of alertness. This, associated with a feeling of efficiency, plays an important role in increasing an individual’s work capacity,” says Disha Shetty, physiotherapist.
She says the benefits of standing are wide-ranging. It helps you psychologically, as it keeps the mind alert, fresh and, to a certain extent, it also relieves stress and anxiety. It is good for your metabolism and also for your blood sugar levels. “The heart rate increases by 10-20 beats per minute as compared to when you are sitting. Standing also reduces lower back pain caused due to prolonged sitting. It relaxes contracted muscles,” she adds.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr Tejas Upasani recommends taking regular breaks at work. He says sitting should be broken up by periodic standing or moving breaks during the day, preferably for one-two minutes every 20 to 30 minutes. “A large body of research has shown that frequent micro breaks improve levels of comfort, and reduce the risks of musculoskeletal injuries, thus improving work performance,” he says.
Movement is important to get the blood circulating through the muscles. While experts say there are no specific parameters for how long an individual should stand or move during a day, “spending around 1/4th of the day standing or walking is ideal,” says Shetty.
However, one also needs to be careful. “Standing for too long can be harmful too. It predisposes the person to varicose veins (veins that have become enlarged and twisted). Standing for long also puts a lot of strain on the circulatory system and on the legs and feet,” says Upasani.
Problems associated with prolonged sitting
1. Developing awkward postures, which indirectly affect an individual’s musculoskeletal health.
2. Conditions such as occupational lower back pain, neck pain, chest pain, and shoulder pain, and also metabolic conditions like diabetes, obesity, etc.
3. In some cases, it can also lead to anxiety and depression.