Many of us spend a lot of the day sitting down. But now many people are wondering is standing too long bad for you? If you have an office job, chances are your lifestyle is what's referred to as 'sedentary'. It's been found that men who sit six hours a day are 20 percent more likely to die than men who sit three hours a day. With these shocking facts in mind, a lot of people now opt to work using a standing desk. But is spending your 8 hours at work standing just as bad?
What is the definition of prolonged standing?
Prolonged standing is defined as standing for over 8 hours. Most people with office jobs will be at their desk for roughly that amount of time, while those in more manual jobs could be on their feet for even longer. Some of the more extreme risks associated with prolonged standing include chronic venous insufficiency, pain in the lower back and feet, and birth complications in pregnant women. However, all that said, this is what happens when you stand still for 8 hours. There are very few, if any, jobs which would require you to stand completely still for 8 hours at a time. If you have a manual job where you are walking around, making deliveries, or working with your hands, this would not apply to you because you will be constantly moving. Similarly, if you work in an office, you are likely to be walking around to different colleagues, making phone calls, cups of tea, or just moving around to print documents or go to meetings, so even if you use a standing desk, it is very unlikely you will be standing completely still for the entire 8 hour work day.
How to stay comfortable while standing
If you do opt to use a standing desk in your office job, there are things you can do to stay comfortable throughout the day.
Keep your weight on the balls of your feet while keeping your knees slightly bent as this is less tiresome on your hips and knees. Over time, you learn to shift your weight along your legs using the balls of your feet. This helps blood flow and gives you some pretty strong calves in the mean time.
Try to alternating between sitting and standing at your desk if you can. We spend a lot of our lives sitting down - driving, on the sofa, at a restaurant, in bed - so try to prioritise standing when you can, but you don't need to spend the entire working day on your feet.
For some exercise ideas you can do subtly at your desk throughout the day, read our article on working out at work. If you'd prefer to get a quick but efficient workout done in your lunch break, try our lunch time HIIT workout which you can do within 30 minutes.
Do you burn calories when you stand?
You burn twice as many calories when you stand than when you sit. We burn one calorie a minute sitting, two calories standing, four walking. Research has found that, on average, obese people sit for two hours and 15 minutes a day longer than lean people. With this in mind, it could be inferred that standing is healthier for you than sitting. However, standing puts more pressure on your joints and your back, so it is actually a combination of both sitting and standing that is best for your health.
If you find that your back aches when you stand for too long, try this back exercise which will strengthen your muscles and strengthen your core with this flat stomach abs workout for best results to prevent aching when you stand.
How many hours a day are you supposed to stand?
Experts have found that you should try to stand for at least 2 hours per day, but up to 4 hours per day could be optimal. This might seem like a lot, but there are lots of ways you can fit standing into your day.
For some people, getting a standing desk is not an option, and some people feel like if they are not sitting at their desk it looks like they're not doing work. Try parking your car further away from the office so that you have to walk a little further each morning and evening if you drive. Walk around when you take phone calls and if there are toilets on each level of the building, go out of your way to use the ones furthest from your desk.
A few small habits each day could be the difference between a healthy lifestyle and suffering from unnecessary health complications. For more information on the dangers of sitting too long, read our article on reasons to workout at work.
Standing too long can be bad for you, but so can sitting for too long. The key is to mix it up throughout the day and move as much as possible.